City launches new ‘Clean Curbs’ pilot program using containerized waste bins, plans to expand to Queens

Clean Curbs
Mayor Eric Adams announces the launch of a waste containerization pilot program in Times Square that will be expanded to the outer boroughs in the coming weeks. (Photo courtesy of Mayor’s Office)

For the second time in three days, Mayor Eric Adams and his newly appointed Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Jessica Tisch announced a new clean streets initiative during Earth Week.

During a Times Square press conference Wednesday, Adams unveiled a new $1.3 million “Clean Curbs” waste containerization pilot expansion to commercial districts in all five boroughs as part of ongoing efforts to improve conditions and safety on city streets.

“We’re not here to simply talk trash,” Adams said “Clean streets are vital to vibrant neighborhoods and to New York City’s economic comeback. We need to stop dodging black garbage bags and instead fund and test container models throughout the city that will make our streets cleaner and more inviting for both New Yorkers and visitors.”

The program tests methods for getting garbage bags off the streets, which in turn will reduce the convergence of rodents, improve aesthetics, and take back parts of city streetscapes, which are currently overburdened by piles of trash, and will include possible tests in business improvement districts and for both residential and commercial waste.

Clean Curbs
Photo courtesy of Mayor’s Office

“Containerization is something that has been talked about for many years, but now we are actually testing what works and what doesn’t in the real world,” Tisch said.”Today’s announcement is a key step in finding ways to take back our streetscape from the mountains of black bags.”

The pilot began in Times Square where new bins are the first example of DSNY’s Clean Curbs Pilot Program and will test sealed containers that hold trash collected from sidewalk litter and nearby litter baskets. The program will expand to southeast Queens and other locations across the borough in the coming weeks.

“New Yorkers deserve to live in communities that are safe and clean,” Speaker Adrienne Adams said. “This can be a critical part of the city’s waste management landscape, and we look forward to our continued partnership in achieving the necessary sanitation investment for New York City.”

Currently, many litter baskets in BIDs are cared for by the local association, which monitors litter baskets and, when full, places bags next to baskets for collection, increasing the capacity for the litter baskets at the same time.

Clean Curbs
Photo courtesy of Mayor’s Office

The new containers will act as a centralized site to hold bags in a sealed atmosphere prior to collection, making trash inaccessible to rodents.

“The ‘Clean Curbs’ program is a welcome response to so many complaints regarding trash collected from sidewalks that are currently placed in bags and left at nearby litter baskets for pick up,” Councilwoman Joann Ariola said. “Providing a sealed container to hold the trash bags, prior to collection, will mitigate the issue of bags being opened by rodents and will create a cleaner condition for our business districts. I look forward to the program expanding into the outer boroughs.”

The pilot is just one initiative underway in the Clean Curbs program. DSNY and the Department of Small Business Services recently announced the Neighborhood Challenge grant program for BIDs and community-based development organizations to make public space and cleanliness improvements in underserved communities. Applications for the first round of funding are due Friday, and the second round of grant applications will open this summer.

“New York City must be a leader on waste management, and the current system is not working and impacts residents’ quality of life,” Ridgewood Councilman Robert Holden said. “In the past, residents put our garbage in cans and not plastic bags to prevent rodents from gaining access and leading to dirty sidewalks and streets. This pilot expansion is a great step toward keeping our city clean, and I applaud the Adams administration for making this a priority.”