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Midwest Sustainability Technology

Meijer Launches Drones To Clean Great Lake Beaches, Waterways

Meijer

Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Meijer is participating in the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup Program with the use of two pieces of technology – the BeBot and Pixie Drone – to clean up the beaches and waterways in partnership with the Council of the Great Lakes Region.

This initiative is supporting the single largest deployment of these types of eco-friendly and remote-controlled devices across multiple states along the Great Lakes, which encompass the largest surface freshwater system in the world.

“It is a privilege to live near the Great Lakes, which inherently comes with the responsibility to protect them,” said Rick Keyes, president and CEO.

“Contributing to the conservation of these invaluable waterways is important to the well-being of our ecosystems, economy and the communities we serve. Meijer has a strong history of environmental stewardship, and we’re pleased to partner with the CGLR because the impact these initiatives will make will ultimately benefit generations to come.”

Meijer and the CGLR will lead cleanup projects at beaches, marinas and waterways in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin in partnership with a variety of 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 demonstration of the eco-friendly equipment:

  • BeBot: A remote-controlled electric beach cleaning robot that cleans 32,000-square-feet per hour. It rakes through the sand without altering the beach environment, and collects plastic litter and other waste – bottles, cans, food wrappers, cigarette butts – in a basket for disposal and recycling.
  • Pixie Drone: A remote-controlled water drone – that can collect up to 200 pounds of material per use – will navigate through marinas and other waterways to collect plastic litter and other waste debris 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 will operate the equipment along the Muskegon lakeshore.

“The city of Muskegon is thrilled to participate in the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup Program and serve as home to the BeBot and Pixie Drone, which will strengthen stewardship of our precious waterways and majestic Pere Marquette Beach,” Muskegon Mayor Ken Johnson said. “We’re excited 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 eco-friendly initiative.”

The BeBot and Pixie Drones were funded by a $1 million donation Meijer made to the CGLR Foundation earlier this year. The deployment of these devices are part of the expansion of the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup’s plastic capture and recovery effort, an initiative that started in 2020 by the CGLR and Pollution Probe.

Meijer is also working on several store-level projects that impact the Great Lakes, including one with the CGLR to install gutter bin stormwater filtration systems at select Meijer supercenters. The gutter bins will capture and prevent trash, debris, microplastics and other harmful stormwater pollutants from flowing into nearby waterways. Each bin captures hundreds of pounds of pollution per year.

The retailer is in the midst of two additional stormwater projects to retrofit the parking lots at its Traverse City and Benton Harbor supercenters with green infrastructure and is continuing its partnership with the Alliance for the Great Lakes on a handful of beach cleanup efforts.  

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