UPDATE March 6, 2018: The Department of Public Works (DPW) of Kent County, MI has issued a request for information and qualifications from companies interested in developing a new "Sustainable Business Park" on 200 acres next to its existing landfill.
The RFI specifically calls for companies "who present innovative waste processing, conversion, or beneficial technologies." Working with Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, the county is looking for "active technology/equipment suppliers, project developers, technology developers, and end-market users that desire to design, build, finance, own and/or operate facilities that will advance the DPW's economic and environmental goals and advance its vision of a Circular Economy."
A teleconference will be held March 28 to answer questions and responses are due by April 26. Responses may be incorporated into the county's master plan, which will be presented to DPW in the summer with recommendations. Respondents will be notified about next steps in the fall.
- Kent County, MI will close its material recovery facility in Grand Rapids for three weeks starting Nov. 28 to make $1.5 million worth of upgrades, as reported by MLive. According to a release from the county's Department of Public Works, this will include a new corrugated cardboard screen, additional optical sorting equipment and a conveyor system refurbishment. Cartons will be accepted once the facility reopens Dec. 19. In the meantime, residents have been asked to store their recyclables if possible.
- This is part of a larger effort to reduce Kent's waste 20% by 2020 and 90% by 2030. Officials recently hosted a meeting to outline plans for a new "sustainable business park" next to the South Kent landfill, as reported by Michigan Radio and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. The county is working with Gershman, Brickner and Bratton (GBB) to develop details of what this might entail.
- This process was announced in August and the county is aiming to issue a request for information in January. The goal is to finalize approvals in July 2018 and open the business park within five years. Kent County's landfill is currently projected to reach capacity by 2029.
Kent County estimates that it processes 525,000 tons of material per year and only about 8% of that is diverted for recycling. The majority of this material is either recyclable or compostable, leaving ample opportunity to maximize diversion before considering a landfill expansion. Upgrading the MRF to handle cartons and better sort cardboard, both growing parts of the waste stream in many areas, is a first step in that direction.
The hope is that using the 200 acres where that expansion might otherwise go for a resource recovery park 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.
Michigan is also in the midst of a comprehensive overview of recycling efforts at a state level, with the goal of doubling its current 30% diversion rate. Recent reports identified a long list of opportunities for capturing more of the $368 million worth of recyclable material that is disposed of each year. While Michigan hasn't felt the full effects of China's new import policies, state officials are interested in developing more regional end markets. An August GBB press release from Kent County also cited volatility from China as a reason to invest in more domestic processing infrastructure.