Press Release



Two winners propose to capture up to half of all organic waste and recyclables generated by more than 3,000 residents at Central Brooklyn's largest public housing complex. 

BROOKLYN, NY – As part of this year’s Earth Day celebrations, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (MOCTO), NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY), and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC) announced today two winners of the NYCx Co-Lab Challenge: Zero Waste in Shared Space. The Challenge called on the tech industry to propose solutions that reduce litter and improper waste disposal, increase resident participation in recycling, and promote waste-free common spaces through increased community stewardship in the Brownsville Houses in Brooklyn. EcoRich, LLC, a composting equipment manufacturer, and Mothers on the Move, a community-based organization, will each receive $20,000 to deploy their proposed solution to encourage every Brownsville Houses household to become a “zero waste” household over the next six months.

“EcoRich and Mothers on the Move will help the residents of Brownsville Houses significantly reduce waste and increase recycling, improving their development and neighborhood. These two winning proposals of the NYCx challenge will help Brownsville Houses become cleaner and more sustainable, while these partnership-based solutions will bring us one step closer to our NextGeneration NYCHA goal to provide safe, clean and connected communities to all residents,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye.

“We are proud to join NYCHA and the Mayor’s Office to announce the winners of the NYCx Zero Waste in Shared Space challenge,” said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “EcoRich and Mothers on the Move have proposed creative new approaches to improving recycling rates at Brownsville Houses, and we are excited to work with these organizations and NYCHA residents to take innovative approaches to further our zero waste goals.”

“NYCx Co-Labs is convening the best and brightest minds in the community, government, and the tech industry to address the self-identified needs of a community,” said Jeremy Goldberg, Deputy CTO, NYCx, Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer. “We look forward to taking this collaborative approach to other neighborhoods across the City to engage New Yorkers and industry and accelerate how, together, we can solve real-world challenges and improve lives.”

“Finding and implementing innovative waste management solutions helps promote sustainability and is critical to advancing the de Blasio Administration’s goal of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “Congratulations to the winners of this challenge. We look forward to the positive impact this will have on residents of the Brownsville Houses, including the addition of youth workforce development in the growing green tech industry.”

The Challenge elicited 13 proposals from organizations from within New York City and from around the world.

About the two winning proposals:

EcoRich, LLC., a New Jersey-based manufacturer, proposed an onsite organics processing system using sealed, automated composters that odorlessly turn food scraps into compost in 24 hours.  Removing food waste from landfill-bound garbage has the potential to reduce over-all volume of trash by 23%. The resulting compost will be available for residents to use in local gardens and nearby Howard Houses farm, a part of Farms at NYCHA.

“Our goal is to recycle all organic waste generated at its source to eliminate the need for trucks to transport to waste, and to educate young people in the community, fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between the residents and the grounds they live on,” said Manish Desai, Founder of EcoRich, LLC. “For EcoRich, the challenge is also an opportunity to learn while teaching others. In the process of showing an entire complex worth of residents the benefits of composting, we get valuable insight on ways to improve our services.”

Mothers on the Move (MOM), a non-profit organization based in the South Bronx, will offer a door-to-door recycling pickup service and incentivize residents to increase their participation in recycling opportunities through peer-to-peer education.  The proposed program was designed by a long-time Mothers on the Move member and NYCHA resident.  In addition, the proposal aims to test how the service can be scaled as a social entrepreneurship opportunity for NYCHA residents.

"We believe deeply in sustainability and what’s best for New Yorkers, especially those who live in communities like mine that desperately need fresh ideas to address social, economic and environmental issues in tandem. This initiative does just that," said Brigitte Vicenty, MOM member and project lead. "We'll make recycling convenience rather than a burden. When successful, it will be a game-changer in how recycling is approached in multifamily buildings in NYC and beyond."

Each organization’s implementation will be supported by Green City Force and the Fund for Public Housing. Green City Force is a youth service-learning organization with extensive experience in NYCHA resident outreach and the manager of Farms at NYCHA. Green City Force Corps members will collect recyclable materials door-to-door and provide resident education. The Fund for Public Housing, a non-profit organization founded to invest in the well-being of NYCHA residents and their communities, will support the expansion of the winning proposals beyond the 6-month pilot through the Ideas Marketplace crowdfunding platform.

“The inclusion of resident entrepreneurs and young adults as leaders will be critical in achieving the City's Zero Waste goal,” said Lisbeth Shepherd, founder and Executive Director of Green City Force. “We are excited to partner with Mothers on the Move, EcoRich, NYCHA and MOCTO, as well as the resident leadership of Brownsville houses, in bringing the talents and energy of our corps to bear as partners in innovation.”

"This is exactly the type of innovative collaboration, powered by public housing residents, that the Fund seeks to support. We are thrilled for the winners and for Brownsville," said Rasmia Kirmani-Frye, President of the Fund for Public Housing.

Announced in October 2017, NYCx seeks to engage the tech industry to solve real-world problems and help the City advance its goals to be the most fair, equitable and sustainable city in the world. The NYCx Co-Lab Challenge: Zero Waste in Shared Space is one of two Co-Lab Challenges for Brownsville.

Zero Waste Challengewas developed through a collaboration among NYC government agencies, academic institutions, and Brownsville community to ensure that technology-enabled civic innovations are responsive to community needs. Brownsville-based community organizations participating in the selection process included: Made in Brownsville, 3 Black Cats, Community Solutions/Brownsville Partnership, the Brownsville Community Justice Center, and Friends of Brownsville Parks.

Led by the Mayor’s Office of the CTO, the NYCx Co-Labs are neighborhood-based partnership to co-design with government a set of challenges and make neighborhood spaces available for testing new technologies aiming to address the neighborhood’s most pressing needs.

“I believe in the incredible potential of technology to access untapped resources and solve our most pressing urban challenges, particularly in areas such as Brownsville that have experienced decades of economic disadvantage and environmental degradation. My administration is a proud partner at the NYCx Brownsville Co-Lab, an unprecedented initiative that is harnessing technology to tackle long-standing challenges that impact residents on a day-to-day basis including waste management. I applaud NYCHA, MOCTO, DSNY, and NYCEDC for their leadership on this exciting initiative through which EroRich, LLC and Mothers on the Move will now work to process organics for use in local community gardens and farms and launch a door-to-door recycling pickup service in the area respectively. This is exactly the kind of grassroots, technology-driven solutions we should be expanding to improve quality-of-life, enhance the public realm, and create a greener and more sustainable borough for all,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“Initiatives such as NYCx Co-Lab Challenge: Zero Waste in Shared Space will help bring solutions that will reduce waste and also educate residents on recycling and proper waste disposal in NYCHA and eventually in all five boroughs. These solutions will ,in turn, help lower the cost of waste disposal, which has expensed our city almost 4 million dollars a year. Furthermore, it’s a step in the right direction to save our planet from pollution,” said Assemblymember Latrice Walker.

"The Brownsville Houses Tenants Association is proud to be a part of this initiative. The  residents in this community want to aim high when it comes to improving our environment and creating opportunity for residents in this  new green economy.   We are especially pleased to support Mothers on the Move, which are clearly demonstrating the creative  potential of public housing residents," said Carolyn Cabbagestalk, Vice President of the Brownsville Houses Tenants Association

"As the anchor partner to NYCx Co-Labs in Brownsville and with the BCJC Tech Lab, Brownsville Community Justice Center has been at the forefront of community engagement through technology.    We are looking forward to supporting the the Zero Waste tech challenge at Brownsville Houses and amplifying the potential of innovative uses of tech to solve pressing neighborhood issues.  We are excited to engage young people in the Brownsville community to creatively engage with the the Zero Waste challenge as a way to link digital technologies, care for their immediate environment, and the overall livability and safety of their neighborhood," said James Brodick, Director of the Brownwsville  Community Justice Center.


From Left to Right: Jared Cole, Senior Manager of Recycling Outreach, DSNY; Brigitte Vicenty from Mothers on the Move, organization winner of the NYCx Co-Lab Challenge: Zero Waste in Shared Space; Jose Serrano-McClain, Program Lead, NYCx Co-Labs, Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye and Manish Desai, Founder of EcoRich, LLC, winner of NYCx Co-Lab Challenge: Zero Waste in Shared Space during an Earth Day celebration at Woodson Houses.



About NYCHA: NYCHA’s mission is to increase opportunities for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers by providing safe, affordable housing and facilitating access to social and community services. Almost 400,000 New Yorkers reside in NYCHA’s 325 public housing developments around the five boroughs, and another 235,000 receive subsidized rental assistance in private homes through the NYCHA-administered Section 8 Leased Housing Program. For more information, visit and for regular updates on NYCHA news and services, and connect with us via and via

About DSNY: The Department of Sanitation (DSNY) keeps New York City healthy, safe and clean by collecting, recycling and disposing of waste, cleaning streets and vacant lots, and clearing snow and ice. The Department operates 59 district garages and manages a fleet of more than 2,000 rear-loading collection trucks, 450 mechanical brooms and 693 salt/sand spreaders. The Department clears litter, snow and ice from approximately 6,500 miles of City streets and removes debris from vacant lots as well as abandoned vehicles from City streets.

About MOCTO: The Mayor’s Office of the CTO is led by the New York City Chief Technology Officer. We’re making broadband, smart city technologies, digital services, and the tech industry work for all New Yorkers.

About EDC: New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.

About the Fund for Public Housing: The Fund for Public Housing is an independent, not-for-profit organization that invests in the well-being of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents and their communities. The Fund collaborates with public and private partners to reimagine and improve the way public housing works. For more information, visit or follow the Fund on Twitter,

About EcoRich: EcoRich provides solutions for organic waste recycling using cutting-edge technology. EcoRich is the U.S. affiliate of Pune, India-based Urban Solutions, founded with the mission to enable all urban dwellers live in sync with mother nature, giving back what we take from earth. Urban Solutions has installed 150 composters in 6 countries, the largest of which processes five tons of food waste daily.  More information is available at

About Mothers on the Move: Mothers on the Move (MOM) is a non-profit organization based in the South Bronx that has been organizing residents for more than two decades to improve housing, economic, education, and environmental conditions in the South Bronx. Beginning almost a decade ago, in collaboration with NYCHA residents and with organizations like the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) and GrowNYC, MOM has been supporting the development of research, white papers, workshops and proposals for the creation of recycling programs within public housing that can lead to “green work” opportunities for residents of the developments.   

About Green City Force: Green City Force is an AmeriCorps program that engages young adults from low income communities in national service related to the environment in a way that prepares them for sustainable careers in the green economy.  Since their founding in 2009, GCF has engaged over 18-24 year old residents of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) in their programming. Green City Force is online at