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Industry Experts Develop Creative Waste Reduction Solutions at Hack:Trash:NYC

Hack:Trash:NYC, a three-day collaborative competition to reduce waste in New York City, took place this past weekend at Galvanize NY.

New York City has a goal to reach zero waste by 2030. And to help the city reach that ambitious goal, approximately 100 product designers, engineers, waste and recycling experts and environmental lawyers teamed up this weekend to participate in Hack:Trash:NYC, a three-day collaborative competition to reduce waste in New York City. The theme for Hack:Trash:NYC was reuse, and the competition challenged teams to “develop and pitch an innovative product, business model, service, policy or education campaign that increases reuse in NYC and results in a meaningful diversion of waste from landfill.”

During the first two days of the hackathon, the teams worked to brainstorm ideas, develop quick pitches to share with judges and mentors to receive helpful feedback throughout the hacking process and prepare their final pitches, which were presented on Sunday afternoon. 

The winning solutions were selected by judges Bridget Anderson, deputy commissioner for recycling and sustainability at the New York City Department of Sanitation; Margot Kane, chief investment and financial officer for the Closed Loop Fund; Mikal Hallstrup, founder and global CEO of Designit; Peter Raymond, principal at The New Bureau, and Aude Broos, strategist at Co:Collective. The judges rated the presentations based on four criteria: originality and creativity of analysis (25 percent); strategic and practical implementation, with meaningful impact on reducing waste to landfill (25 percent); scalability and organization (25 percent); and effective presentation, communication and summary of solution (25 percent).

After much deliberation, three winners and one honorable mention were awarded with $5,000 in prizes. 

Winner Courtesy of The New Bureau

Surplus Food Catering

Surplus Food Catering's pitch focused on how to collect edible food that would otherwise go to waste to donate to shelters. Its ultimate goal is to offer low cost or free prepared food recovered from supermarkets, restaurants and community-supported agricultures to community centers across the New York City area. 

Winner Courtesy of Designit

Milk Men Model

Milk Men Model's concept targeted commercial real estate buildings and focused on reducing disposable container waste. The group proposed providing reusable containers to vendors, which could be dropped off at convenient collection points to be washed and redelivered back to the vendors for reuse. 

Winner and a Half-Day Development Workshop Courtesy of Co:Collective and Open Innovation Session Courtesy of The New Bureau


Fix.ly is an innovative app that would provide users with options to give items a second chance at life. Users would be able to choose from a list of repairs, select a time and day for a courier to come pick up an item for repair and select a time or day for a courier to drop off an item after repairs are complete. 

Honorable Mention and Automatic Pitch Slot at the next Talk Trash City event

Hack Pack NYC

Hack Pack NYC's concept focused on creating a closed loop packing system, which would help meal kit and grocery delivery companies to better manage their packaging. The packaging would be compact, reusable and recyclable. The packaging, which would be offers in sizes small, medium and large, would be made from PET, which is a more viable material than corrugated cardboard and insulation, according to the group.

"I was most impressed with the teams' energy and commitment to come up with innovative and effective solutions to reduce waste in New York City," says Marisa Adler, senior consultant for Resource Recycling Systems and Waste360 40 Under 40 award recipient. "To these teams it was more than just developing ideas; it was about creating concepts that they actually want to create, implement and succeed in the near future."

Flip through his gallery to view photos of the winning groups and the hackers in action. 

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