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Here's something the rodent-terrorized residents of the Upper East Side may find especially interesting: A newly EPA-approved garbage bag claims to ward off rats with a minty scent that inflames the sinuses of animals with sensitive sniffers.
After receiving an email pitch from Mint-X, our curiosity was piqued by a rumor that the company has struck a deal with the city to become its primary trash bag supplier.
A Mint-X spokesperson declined to comment on a pending deal, except to say that the company had "reached out to the city" and that "with the cuts in budget and resources, the city is looking for something that goes beyond poisons and traditional traps."
But do the bags work? And even if they don't fend off rats, will our trash smell better?
We checked in with BrickUnderground's pest control expert, Gil Bloom, who gave the EPA-approved bags a thumbs sideways.
It’s true, he said, that rats would rather dine on something else than mint-flavored garbage. So if all of your building’s garbage is wrapped in Mint-X bags and your neighbor’s isn’t, the rats will make their picnic elsewhere. In theory.
“Unfortunately, established urban rat populations do not necessarily respond the same way controlled study rats do, so we will have to see what happens when our rats try to sink their teeth into these bags,” says Bloom, an entomologist and the vice-president of Standard Pest Management.
Also, he notes, “plastic bags do snag, get caught on points, and rip as they get dragged and tossed during storage and disposal, and they do get cut and ripped by human and other animal scavengers.”
Moreover, Bloom theorizes that widespread use of the bags could prompt Gotham’s hardy Norway rats to gnaw their way through the pain.
“Rats are the third most successful mammal on the planet,” notes Bloom, who favors a homemade rat-repelling mist of bleach and water applied to the inside of trash bags. “Ultimately, would rats rather starve to death than go through minty plastic garbage bags?”
Mint-X maintains that with so many other food sources available in New York, rats will have little incentive to conquer their mint aversion.
The company says its bags, for sale only through its website for now, were successfully tested by some large New York City residential buildings over the last two years, and are priced competitively with normal garbage bags.
As for their aroma-therapy benefits on garbage pickup day? That has yet to be measured.
"They give off a very faint kind of minty fresh smell," said Mint-X spokesperson Jeff Cannon. "It wouldn't entirely mask the odor of rotten trash on some of the hot humid August days, but it could help."