Meijer Expands Commitment to Great Lakes Cleanup Effort

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan – Meijer announced Monday that it is expanding its partnership with the Council of the Great Lakes Region to clean up Midwest beaches and waterways.

Since 2022, the retailer has donated more than $1.5 million to the Council of the Great Lakes Region Foundation to expand deployment of two types of innovative litter capture and cleanup technologies, the BeBot and Pixie Drone, as part of the council’s Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup Program.

Meijer kickstarted its participation in the council’s cleanup program last year with a $1 million donation and the support of pilot testing of the BeBot and Pixie Drone at Pere Marquette Beach and a nearby marina in Muskegon, Michigan, by the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University. The efforts resulted in the collection of 6,130 items, including thousands of plastic fragments, cigarette butts, foam pieces and plastic fibers.

This year, the devices will be deployed to 18 different locations in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. Meijer and the Council of the Great Lakes Region will lead the cleanup projects at the local level, working with community, state and environmental NGO partners, including the Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin Sea Grant organizations and Grand Valley State University. Each project will collect, sort, weigh and itemize waste materials to better inform and educate the public, regional companies and policymakers.

“It’s a privilege to live near the Great Lakes, and it’s one we don’t take for granted, which is why we’re continuing to take steps to protect them,” said Erik Petrovskis, director of Environmental Compliance and Sustainability at Meijer. “Meijer was the first retailer to support the innovative technology in the Great Lakes last year, and thanks to our ongoing relationship with the Council of the Great Lakes Region and local NGO partners, we’re able to expand our hands-on efforts to ensure their viability for generations to come.”

The BeBot is an eco-friendly and remote-controlled electric (solar and battery powered) beach cleaning robot that mechanically sifts sand, rakes seaweed and levels sandy areas to remove plastic waste and other debris without harming the local environment. It cleans 32,000 square feet per hour and collects plastic litter and other waste – bottles, cans, food wrappers and cigarette butts – in a basket for disposal and recycling.

The Pixie Drone is a floating eco-friendly and remote-controlled water drone that navigates through marinas and other waterways to collect waste – organic, plastic, glass, metal, paper and rubber – and water data such as temperature, pH, salinity, turbidity and dissolved oxygen. It can collect up to 200 pounds of material per use and can be operated in salt, fresh and brackish waters.

“These lakes represent a fifth of the world’s surface freshwater, and our partnership with CGLR has already contributed to their conservation,” Petrovskis said. “But there is more work to be done, and these innovative technologies will help in that effort.”

Pictured at top: The BeBot beach cleaning robot is seen in this image captured from video. (Vimeo | Meijer)

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.