US retailer Meijer to launch beach and water cleaning drones in the Great Lakes

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Midwestern US retailer Meijer is launching its participation in the Great Lakes Plastics Cleanup Program with the use of two innovative technologies – the BeBot and the Pixie Drone – to clean up beaches and waterways in the Midwest in partnership with the Great Lakes Region Council.

This initiative supports the largest deployment of these types of eco-friendly, remote-controlled devices in several Great Lakes states, which encompass the largest surface freshwater system in the world.

Rick Keyes, President and CEO of Meijer, said, “It’s a privilege to live near the Great Lakes, which comes with an inherent responsibility to protect them.

“Helping to conserve these invaluable waterways is important to the well-being of our ecosystems, our economy and the communities we serve. Meijer has a long tradition of environmental stewardship, and we are delighted to partner with CGLR, as the impact of these initiatives will ultimately benefit generations to come.

Starting this month, Meijer and CGLR will lead cleanup projects at busy beaches, marinas, and waterways in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin in partnership with various community, state, and environmental NGO partners. .

The retailer kicked off its efforts with a press conference at Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon earlier this week that included a live demonstration of the innovative gear:

BeBot: an eco-friendly, remote-controlled electric (solar and battery-powered) beach cleaning robot – that cleans 32,000 square feet per hour. It rakes the sand without altering the beach environment and collects plastic waste and other waste – bottles, cans, food wrappers, cigarette butts – in a basket for disposal and recycling.

Pixie Drone: An eco-friendly, remote-controlled aquatic drone — which can collect up to 200 pounds of materials per use — will cruise marinas and other waterways to collect plastic trash and other trash floating on the surface of the water. It will also collect other water data, such as temperature, pH, salinity, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen.

Representatives from the Grand Valley State University Annis Water Resources Institute (GVSU-AWRI) will operate the equipment along the shoreline of Muskegon Lake.

Dr. Al Steinman, Allen and Helen Hunting Research Professor at GVSU-AWRI, says, “Microplastics have become one of the most pressing issues facing our waterways, both in the Great Lakes and around the world. scale; we are both delighted and honored to be part of Meijer’s initiative to fund new technologies to solve this problem.

“Resolving the dilemma of microplastics is essential, not only for the ecology of our local waters, but also for the economy of our coastal communities, who visit and recreate on our beaches and lakes in the hope that they are clean and free of pollutants. The BeBot and the Pixie Drone will help meet these expectations. »

Ken Johnson, Mayor of Muskegon, said, “The City of Muskegon is thrilled to participate in the Great Lakes Plastics Cleanup Program and to be home to the BeBot and Pixie drone, which will strengthen stewardship of our precious waterways and community. majestic beach of Pere Marquette.

“We are thrilled to see these innovative devices in action, and our community is grateful for the collaboration of Meijer, the GVSU Annis Water Resources Institute and the Council of the Great Lakes Region in advancing this environmentally friendly initiative.”

The BeBot and Pixie drones were funded by a $1 million donation Meijer made to CGLR’s charitable arm in the United States – the CGLR Foundation – earlier this year.

The deployment of these devices is part of the expansion of the plastic capture and recovery effort of Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup, an initiative launched in 2020 by CGLR and Pollution Probe.

Mark Fisher, President and CEO of CGLR, said, “The Great Lakes, which are at the heart of the Great Lakes Binational Economic Region, are a natural resource of global significance.

“By partnering with companies like Meijer, who share CGLR’s strong commitment to building the future sustainability and economy of the region today, we are able to keep our beaches and waterways clean and litter-free. plastics as we strive to ensure the materials we use as consumers never become waste by embracing a circular economy mindset in the region.

Meijer is also working on numerous store-level projects that impact the Great Lakes, including one with CGLR to install rainwater gutter filtration systems at select Meijer supercenters.

Gutter pans will capture and prevent trash, debris, microplastics and other harmful stormwater pollutants from flowing into nearby waterways. Each trash can captures hundreds of pounds of pollution per year.

The retailer is in the midst of two additional stormwater treatment projects to upgrade car parks at its Traverse City and Benton Harbor supercenters with green infrastructure and is continuing its partnership with the Great Lakes Alliance on a handful of efforts to beach cleaning.

Erik Petrovskis, Director of Environmental Compliance and Sustainability at Meijer, said, “The Great Lakes are an area of ​​immense value, and we are proud to be actively involved in protecting these local waterways.

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