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Uncovered trash has made for easy feasting for rodents. Now, Boston officials are looking to end the ‘rat buffet.’
By Christopher Gavin,
"The rats don't run this city!"
Right now, the rodents are part of the problem. But Boston city councilors are hoping the pests could one day be the ones stuck with a challenge.
Councilors Kenzie Bok, Ruthzee Louijeune, and Ed Flynn on Wednesday called for a hearing to discuss the possibility of starting some form of “a trash containerization pilot” program for Boston’s downtown neighborhoods, as uncovered trash has made for easy feasting for rodents.
“We’re sort of ending up with a rat buffet out on the street,” Bok told her fellow councilors.
To be clear, trash cans are allowed in the city’s dense inner core.
But many households forgo putting their meal scraps, discarded packaging, and whatever other refuse they may have into bins due to the lack of storage space outside and curbside on trash day, Bok said.
Residents, therefore, often use only trash bags to store their garbage for collection, Bok explained. Under city ordinance, folks are also allowed to do that, so long as they use a two-ply bag or a plastic bag “with a minimum thickness of 0.9 millimeters,” according to Wednesday’s filing.
“The rats go through them and rip them apart,” said Councilor Gabriela Coletta, who represents the North End.
And the problem has been longstanding in some neighborhoods.
In the South End, for example, a period of trash pickup scheduling woes in 2019 underscored the problem as streets became littered with trash, in part due to how the flimsy bags became a welcome sight for scavengers, rodents, and even acts of Mother Nature to rip open.
Nonetheless, councilors will seek to hear ideas and input from several city departments, including the Inspectional Services Department, the Public Works Department, and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics.
The hearing order was assigned to the Committee on City Services, Innovation, and Technology.