As part of a $1 million donation from grocery store operator Meijer, the Council of the Great Lakes region in the U.S. will soon be purchasing robots, drones, and more to clean up Midwestern beaches and waterways.
Items include electric beach cleaning robots called BeBots, remote controlled water drones called Pixie Drones, and gutter-bin stormwater filtration systems.
Meijer sends message to cut down pollution
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer said it donated to the CGLR Foundation, the donation arm of the council, to bring awareness about the scale of the plastics pollution problem in the Great Lakes and to initiate action to end plastic waste and litter.
The company’s donation will be used to help expand CGLR’s Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup initiative.
“We are lucky to live near the beautiful Great Lakes, which not only provide immense economic value to the region, but they also act as a hub for recreation, travel and biodiversity. It's our responsibility to protect them,” said Vik Srinivasan, senior vice president of properties and real estate at Meijer.
“These lakes represent a fifth of the world's surface freshwater, and our partnership with the Council of the Great Lakes is the perfect opportunity for Meijer to be hands-on in the protection of our local waterways,” Srinivasan added.
Meijer and CGLR will work together to lead cleanup
Meijer and the CGLR said they will lead these cleanup projects at the local level working with a variety of community, state, and non-governmental organization partners. They include the Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin Sea Grant organizations; the Indiana Department of Environmental Management; the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh; and Pollution Probe.
Each project will collect, sort, weigh and itemize waste materials to better inform the public, regional companies, and policymakers at all levels on the problem and potential solutions.
The grocer said the BeBots, which are manufactured by Poralu Marine Inc., can clean 32,000 sq. ft. per hour. They will be used at busy beaches in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
The Pixie Drones can collect 200 lb. of material and will be used to navigate marinas and other waterways in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin to collect plastic litter and other waste debris floating on the surface of the water. It will also collect water data, such as temperature, pH, salinity, turbidity and dissolved oxygen.
The gutter bins will be installed at Meijer supercenters for trash, debris and microplastic and other harmful stormwater pollutants from flowing into nearby waterways.
80% of litter washes up ashore
The Great Lakes are the largest surface freshwater system in the world, and models estimate that 22 million lb. of plastic litter enter them annually, according to Meijer. An estimated 80% of the litter that washes up on those shorelines is plastic.
“We are very excited to be working with Meijer to expand the GLPC in the United States in 2022, the 50th anniversary of the United States-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement,” said Mark Fisher, president and CEO of CGLR.
“Meijer has had a long-standing commitment to protecting the environment, and this investment in the GLPC will reduce plastic pollution and keep this globally significant natural resource beautiful and clean for generations to come,” he added.
In addition to sustainability partnerships and initiatives currently underway, Meijer said it continues to prioritize its longstanding commitment to the environment by integrating sustainability into daily operations.
This includes addressing carbon and waste reduction, recycling, offering local and sustainable products, and continuing responsible growth.
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