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Organics Collection Case Study: The Helena


The Helena was the first residential high-rise building in New York City to join DSNY's Organics Collection program.

building overview
building set up and operations
outreach and education

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Building Overview

The Helena, a Durst Organization building located at 601 West 57th Street, is a thirty-eight floor building that houses almost 600 individual units. The Helena provided each residence with an individual 1.5 gallon brown kitchen container for collection of organic material within the home.

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Building Set Up and Operations

On each floor there is a service room to dispose of refuse, recycling and organic material. The organic and materials are emptied into designated 26.5 gallon brown bins lined with bags. Regular refuse, including any plastic bags from Residents, is placed in the garbage chute.

At least once per day, building staff collects material placed in the organics and recycling bins from the service rooms. The material is then transported to the main disposal room on the Ground Floor, emptied into dedicated 65 gallon receptacle, and stored before staff places it on the curb for DSNY collection.

Maintenance workers weigh the organic material before it is placed out for curbside collection. The Helena typically disposes of one 64-gallon receptacle per day, averaging almost 200 lbs. On Mondays however, The Helena sets out two 64-gallon receptacles to accommodate the weight increase from the organic material that is not collected on Saturdays or Sundays.

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Outreach and Education

Introduction Letter to Residences

Every residence in the building received a printed letter about the program, delivered inside their kitchen collection containers. The letter described the program, how the program works from the perspective of the Resident, what materials are accepted, and what building changes Residents can expect. The letter also served as an invitation to a launch party.

Staff Training

All staff members in the building were required to attend an on-site staff training session where they received an introduction to the program and learned about their daily roles and responsibilities. The training took less than one hour.

Building Launch Party

One week prior to the start of the program, The Helena held a launch party in the lobby with refreshments (including organics bins for any leftovers!) and an interactive presentation. The launch party gave Residents the opportunity to learn about the program in person, ask questions, and mingle. It also made the program visible to Residents entering and exiting the building.

News Alerts via Building Link

The Helena utilizes a software service called Building Link for sending out notifications, news, and alerts to building residents about building matters, including Organics Collection.

Area Posters

Every bin is labeled with a food waste decal and every trash room has food waste posters, displaying what materials can and cannot go in the organics bin.

Focus Groups

One month into the program, The Helena held focus groups with staff and residents to obtain valuable feedback, comments, and suggestions. Results of the focus groups were used to make improvements to the program within the building.

Email feedback

The Helena Building management is accessible to all residents via email in the case of any questions, concerns, or problems. Inquiries are tracked and responded to in a timely fashion.

Staff Approachability

On a daily basis, the staff interacts directly with residents. The Helena encourages residents to maintain open communication with the staff in order to provide the best service possible.

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