Muskegon, MI will serve as the home base for drones that will be used to clean up Midwestern beaches and waterways. Meijer, a grocery store chain, has partnered with the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) to participate in the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup Program. Meijer has provided US$1 million in funding for the initiative that will support the largest deployment of drones across multiple Great Lakes states.
“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 of Meijer. “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.”
Two types of drones will be used: the BeBot and the Pixie Drone. BeBot is a solar and battery powered beach screening robot which has the capacity to rake through 32,000 square feet (~ 2972 sq m) of beach sand per hour. Pixie Drone is a water device designed to navigate marinas and other waterways and collect up to 200 pounds (~90 kilos) of material per use. The drones are manufactured by The Searial Cleaners. The Grand Valley State University Annis Water Resources Institute (GVSU-AWRI) will operate the drones. The project has future plans to work on projects on beaches and waterways in Ohio, Wisconsin, and other parts of Michigan.
“The Great Lakes are an area of immense value,” said Erik Petrovskis, director of environmental compliance and sustainability at Meijer. “We are proud to be hands-on in the protection of these local waterways.”