NYCx Co-Labs: Zero Waste in Shared Spaces Challenge

NYCx Co-Labs: Zero Waste in Shared Spaces Challenge

The NYCx Co-Labs: Zero Waste in Share Spaces Challenge is part of the inclusive innovation efforts of the City of New York to connect the NYC tech ecosystem, government agencies, local communities, and global innovators to address the following challenge:

How might we get to zero waste and litter and increase recycling in Brownsville’s public housing?

Executive Summary

In spring 2017 NYCx Co-Labs, formerly known as Neighborhood Innovation Labs,  inaugurated the Brownsville Community Technology Board with the participation of 25 community members representing 18 organizations. Throughout the spring and summer the board gathered to identify community needs. After eight community workshops and three public forums, two issues were selected as the priority challenges: Waste management and Safety at Night.  

In October 2017, The NYC Department of Sanitation, The NYC Housing Authority, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and NYC Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (MOCTO) launched the NYCx Co-Labs: Zero Waste in Share Spaces Challenge.

The goal of the challenge was to address the following outcomes:

  • Reduce litter and improper waste disposal in public housing
  • Increase resident participation in recycling waste-reduction opportunities
  • Promote waste-free common spaces through increased community stewardship

DSNY and NYCHA agreed to become NYCx Co-Labs co-sponsors to ensure alignment with LL49 mandates and other agency priorities, including capture and diversion rates, litter reduction, resident engagement/education. Partners also considered other variables, including tech feasibility and appropriateness for six-month pilot duration. 

Once the challenge and indicators were vetted by the Community Tech Board, MOUs were developed to establish roles/responsibilities and to commit $20K per participating agency partner. A challenge website was created, a judging panel was established (including DSNY, NYCHA, Fund for Public Housing, MOCTO, EDC, and others for the “Zero Waste in Shared Space” challenge), and both challenge statements were launched publicly. Of 13 proposals for Zero Waste, judges recommended finalists, with the CTAB providing final approval. Two finalists each received $20,000 for a six-month pilot of their proposed solutions to encourage residents of NYCHA’s Brownsville Houses development to increase recycling and composting rates, including Inner City Green Team (ICGT) formerly known as Mothers on the Move, a non-profit initiative founded by a NYCHA resident, which proposed a data-enabled door-to-door recycling pickup service; and EcoRich, a composting hardware startup, which proposed a sealed, automated onsite organics processing system 

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    Program Director


    NYC Mayor's Office of the CTO; NYC Department of Sanitation; NYC Housing Authority; NYC Economic Development Corporation.


    Open Innovation Challenge


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