Meijer strengthened its commitment to Great Lakes stewardship today by expanding its partnership with the Council of the Great Lakes Region to clean up Midwest beaches and waterways.
Since 2022, the retailer has donated more than $1.5 million to the CGLR Foundation. The donations help expand the deployment of two innovative litter capture and clean-up technologies, the BeBot and Pixie Drone, to 18 new locations along Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin lakeshores as part of the Council's Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup Program.
"It's a privilege to live near the Great Lakes, and it's one we don't take for granted, which is why we're continuing to take steps to protect them," said Erik Petrovskis, director of environmental compliance and sustainability at Meijer. "Meijer was the first retailer to support the innovative technology in the Great Lakes last year, and thanks to our ongoing relationship with the Council of the Great Lakes Region and local NGO partners, we're able to expand our hands-on efforts to ensure their viability for generations to come."
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The retailer kickstarted its participation in the Council's cleanup program last year with a $1 million donation and to support the pilot testing of the BeBot and Pixie Drone at Pere Marquette Beach and a nearby marina in Muskegon, Mich. by the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University. Their efforts collected 6,130 items, including thousands of plastic fragments, cigarette butts, foam pieces and plastic fibers.
The BeBot is an eco-friendly and remote-controlled electric (solar and battery-powered) beach-cleaning robot that mechanically sifts sand, rakes seaweed and levels sandy areas to remove plastic waste and other debris without harming the local environment. It cleans 32,000 square feet per hour and collects plastic litter and other waste—bottles, cans, food wrappers and cigarette butts—in a basket for disposal and recycling.
The Pixie Drone is a floating eco-friendly and remote-controlled water drone that navigates through marinas and other waterways to collect waste—organic, plastic, glass, metal, paper and rubber—and other water data, such as temperature, pH, salinity, turbidity and dissolved oxygen. It can collect up to 200 pounds of material per use and can be operated in salt, fresh and brackish waters.
This year, the devices will be deployed to 18 locations in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. Meijer and the CGLR will lead the local clean up projects, working with various community, state, and environmental NGO partners, including the Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin Sea Grant organizations and GVSU. Each project will collect, sort, weigh and itemize waste materials to inform better—and educate—the public, regional companies, and policymakers at all levels on the problem and the solutions.
"These lakes represent a fifth of the world's surface freshwater, and our partnership with CGLR has already contributed to their conservation," Petrovskis said. "But there is more work to be done and these innovative technologies will help in that effort."
"We are thrilled to be continuing and growing our partnership with Meijer, a sustainability leader in the Great Lakes region, to ensure our beaches and waterways are free of plastic litter," said Mark Fisher, CGLR president and CEO. "The work we are doing will not only protect the health of these vital waters for generations to come, the data collected will help us drive change when it comes to recycling and building a future without consumer waste."