NEW YORK (PIX11) – New York City is proposing significant changes to how trash is collected.

The NYC Department of Sanitation is considering changing the earliest time you can set your trash out on the street to 8 p.m. That’s four hours later than the current set-out time of 4 p.m. The proposed change is meant to tackle New York City’s rat problem by limiting the time black bags sit curbside, reducing the time for rats to feast on them.

“New Yorkers complain about a number of quality-of-life issues. Chief among them is rats and cleanliness of our streets and our curbs,” said Jessica Tisch, Department of Sanitation commissioner. “This plan is intended to clean up the streets, deal with the odors, address the rats.”

New York City’s current 4 p.m. set-out time is the earliest of any major city in the United States, according to Joshua Goodman, the assistant commissioner for public affairs at the Department of Sanitation.

“It means the trash is often on the street for more time than it isn’t in a given 24-hour period,” Goodman said.

Under the proposed rule changes, if you want to put your garbage bag on the street, you would have to wait until 8 p.m. However, trash would be allowed outside a bit earlier in the day if it’s stored in a can or bin. Residential trash placed in a bin would be allowed on the street starting at 6 p.m. Commercial trash could go out in a bin starting an hour before the business closes.

Goodman said the Department of Sanitation is currently picking up about 5 million pounds of trash and recycling during the midnight to 8 a.m. shift, instead of the 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift, which is several times higher than before the COVID pandemic.

“We are doing more of our collection on the midnight shift, getting bags cleared before most people wake up. You set it out later, we’ll pick up more of it earlier,” Goodman said.

The sanitation department commissioner is discussing the proposed ideas with the business community. There will also be a public comment period. The entire process is expected to take several months before any decision is made.