April 28th, 2021

Kent County Sustainable Business Park for a cleaner tomorrow

What if West Michigan could divert 90% of the trash we send to the landfill, while at the same time creating new jobs and driving economic growth?

Kent County Greater Grand Rapids Regional Collaboration

What if West Michigan could divert 90% of the trash we send to the landfill, while at the same time creating new jobs and driving economic growth?

That's the vision of the Kent County Sustainable Business Park.

As we welcome Earth Day 2021, we join over a billion people worldwide celebrating a day of environmental action to create better world for future generations.

Earth Day is often associated with recycling education, environmental rallies, and other community clean up events. However, Earth Day is also a day to celebrate the larger transformational initiatives that are building a cleaner greener world for tomorrow. The Kent County Sustainable Business Park is one of those transformational initiatives to celebrate.

What is The Kent County Sustainable Business Park?

The Sustainable Business Park is the next generation in waste management for our region. Picture what it looks like a common industrial park to the untrained eye. Trucks and people coming and going. Products being produced. A beehive of activity. The difference is the companies located in this industrial park are turning the trash we generate on a daily basis into the fuels and products we will use tomorrow.

The Sustainable Business Park is attracting companies that specialize in reclaiming or converting waste materials that might otherwise be dumped into the landfill into usable materials, such as fuel pellets, plastic flake, compost, construction materials, and more. There are also opportunities for complementary businesses, startups and entrepreneurs to tap into these reclaimed or converted materials and transform them into new products, including clothing, automotive components or animal feed.

Building a Sustainable Business Park in Kent County will help our community cut down on trash buried in landfills and attract investment and jobs from companies that convert waste into usable products. The Park will take waste materials that would otherwise be dumped into a landfill and reuse or recycle those materials into products like compost for agriculture fuel pellets, plastic pellets for new plastic products, biofuels and textiles. A variety of complementary businesses, entrepreneurs and startups that need access to raw materials could tap into these reclaimed or converted materials, incorporating them into their production processes or transforming them into entirely new products.

Partnering for Economic Growth

For the past three years, The Right Place has partnered with Kent County and the Kent County Department of Public Works to help turn the Sustainable Business Park into a reality. From infrastructure insight planning to marketing and business attraction, our team is committed to Kent County’s waste reduction vision.

We have led the creation of cross functional advisory groups consisting of community members, elected officials, and infrastructure providers to build a comprehensive plan for the park that works for everyone.

In June 2020, we were excited to collaborate with the Kent County Department of Public works in their release of an innovative RFP to identify an “anchor tenant” to launch the project. That RFP process has brought innovative ideas from sustainable businesses around the world, all vying to be part of this one-of-a-kind project. That process is expected to be complete in early summer 2021 with a recommendation to the public works board of directors.

We have also had numerous conversations with innovative startups and growing companies, both nationally and internationally, that offer novel solutions to converting our current waste into a wide variety of new and useful purposes.

Over the next several years, our goal is to attract some of the leading innovators in this space from around the world to locate here in West Michigan, creating an international destination for sustainable waste management.

Imagine the trash that you throw the dumpster or roll to the curb be coming tomorrow's building materials, biofuels, compost, or remanufactured products. Imagine 90% of what is in your trash can today becoming something other than adding to a landfill. That is what's happening in our own backyard through a lot of innovative thinking, collaboration, and hard work by the Kent County Department of Public Works and its regional partners.

To learn more about the sustainable business park and future plans for the location, visit reimaginetrash.org/sbp.