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Environmental Empowerment

Rallying for NYCHA Residents Rights to Recycle since 2009

Convenience is key for a successful recycling program. To address this, we developed The Right to Recycle Collection Initiative-an easy and convenient at-your-door collection service where residents don't have to go outside just to recycle. This engaging experience provides a valuable service to the large senior population and other residents who may have mobility issues or health challenges. We look to couple our collection service with an "appreciation program" where each time a resident recycles they earn green points that can be redeemed for various goods and services.

Our “white glove service” approach incorporates accessibility, the use of data, and rewards to influence lasting behavior change.

The Problem

It's not convenient!

NYCHA developments have long been considered extremely challenging environments in which to develop a recycling program. To date, they have not been successful at significantly increasing its recycling participation. In 2015, the NYCHA Recycles! program was launched and included installing recycling bins in all 328 developments by the end of 2016. The City's solution was to place communal recycling bins between buildings. However, getting residents to use these bins is proving to be very difficult. The bins are outside and inconveniently located which means that residents must make a special trip in order to recycle. Most NYCHA residents are more apt to use the trash chute on their floor than to take the elevator down and walk their recycling outside. As a result, the new system is vastly underperforming.
Consequently, the approximately 133 million pounds (66,000 tons) of recyclables each year at NYCHA are going to landfill at great cost to the City and the environment.  The results have amounted to millions of dollars being wasted and the latest system has been deemed a failure.



Competing to Increase Recycling in NYC Public Housing

Improving recycling rates in public housing is a major lever in the quest to reach the City’s goal of sending Zero Waste to Landfills by 2030. In 2017, the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Sanitation of New York (DSNY), and NYCHA launched the NYCx Co-Lab Challenge: Zero Waste in Shared Space.  This was a competition seeking solutions that would improve recycling capture rates at NYCHA, increase resident engagement, mitigate litter, reduce the amount of time that NYCHA employees spend dealing with waste and involve the community in a meaningful way.


Our Solution

Making it Do-able!

Even if the current NYCHA Recycles! system wasn't a failure, our innovative solution eliminates the task of residents having to go outside and walk to faraway bins in sometimes inclement weather or potentially dangerous situations just to recycle. This accessible approach is a jump start to empower individuals in taking small, but cumulative action to address the on-going and destructive effects of climate change.

It employs a multifaceted component of a do-able environmental call to action, provides the education needed for participants to be effective and accountable in their actions, and ignites socio-economic motivation via job creation.

Recyclables set out on collection day
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