- Twenty-three companies from around the globe responded to a request for information issued by Kent County, Mich. earlier this year about building a "sustainable business park" adjacent to the county's existing landfill, according to MLive.
- The RFI asked for "active technology/equipment suppliers, project developers, technology developers, and end-market users" to submit proposals that could help advance the county's "vision of a Circular Economy." Among the 23 respondents were EcoHub, Emterra Environmental, Enerkem, Entsorga, Lab USA, Michigan Technological University, Toterra and Plexus Recycling Technologies.
- MLive reports the proposals will now be reviewed by a stakeholder committee, with consulting from Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, and multiple firms could be selected to bring their waste processing and conversion technologies to the business park.
Kent County Department of Public Works (DPW) spokesperson Kristen Wieland told MLive the department is "pleased" with the results of the RFI, and especially pleased that the interested companies have a vast range of expertise and knowledge. The county is currently pushing an effort to reduce waste 20% by 2020 — and 90% by 2030 — therefore any creative solutions that could advance these goals are critical.
This is driven by a projected 2029 lifespan for the county landfill and a lower than average local recycling rate. It has been previously estimated that up to 75% of the approximately 500,000 tons of material sent to the landfill each year could be reused, recycled or otherwise converted.
The hope is that using this 200 acres for a resource recovery park, as opposed to a landfill expansion, could also help fuel economic development in the area. A 2015 report completed by GBB found significant interest and opportunities for "zero waste" economic development in the area. Potential ideas for the new project include organics processing infrastructure, reuse or repair options and solutions for recycling construction debris.
Based on the list of respondents and other conversations, this project is seen as one of the more enticing of its kind in the country right now. A receptive county government, combined with a potentially blank canvas for development, could present rare opportunities to scale up technologies that don't currently have a large presence in the U.S. or may still be in the conceptual stage.
Moving forward, the goal is to present draft recommendations to the Kent County Department of Public Works later this summer.