Meijer Donates $1M to Protect Great Lakes

Retailer funds initiative that leverages robots, drones and other tech to clean up beaches, waterways
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Beach bot
The BeBot is a beach-cleaning robot that will be used along shorelines in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin as part of a Meijer-funded cleanup effort.

Revealed ahead of Earth Day but with long-term implications, a new donation from Michigan-based Meijer will help the charitable arm of the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) clean beaches and waterways in the region. The retailer is giving $1 million to help alleviate plastic pollution in the Great Lakes and raise awareness about sustainable packaging and litter prevention.

Based not far from Lake Michigan and with stores located across the Great Lakes region, Meijer is helping fund CGLR technologies that are part of the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup (GLPC) program. Among other innovations, those technologies include remote-controlled electric robots that can clean up to 32,000 square feet of beach an hour, and drones that can collect up to 200 pounds of material on the water’s surface per use. The drones are also designed to gather important data, including temperature, pH, salinity and dissolved oxygen.

The retailer is playing an active role in the deployment of such initiatives. Meijer and the CGLR will lead local cleanup projects, working with various community state and environmental partners. Following the cleanup, waste materials will be sorted, weighed and itemized as a way to educate the public, other companies in the area and policymakers about the scope and scale of plastic pollution and litter.

Back at the store level, Meijer is also investing in gutter bins to filter stormwater from its buildings. Placed at the retailer’s supercenters, the bins will capture and prevent trash, debris, microplastics and other stormwater pollutants from flowing into nearby waters.

"We are lucky to live near the beautiful Great Lakes, which not only provide immense economic value to the region, but they also act as a hub for recreation, travel and biodiversity. It’s our responsibility to protect them," said Vik Srinivasan, Meijer’s SVP of properties and real estate. "These lakes represent a fifth of the world’s surface freshwater, and our partnership with the Council of the Great Lakes is the perfect opportunity for Meijer to be hands-on in the protection of our local waterways."

Added Mark Fisher, president and CEO of the CGLR, which has offices in Ottawa, Ontario and Cleveland, Ohio: "Meijer has had a longstanding commitment to protecting the environment and this investment in the GLPC will reduce plastic pollution and keep this globally significant natural resource beautiful and clean for generations to come.

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer operates 258 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin. The company is No. 18 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America

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