Meijer Keeps an Eye on Great Lakes Pollution

Midwest retailer funds program to clean up beaches with drones and other remote-controlled technologies
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
meijer great lakes
Meijer has invested $1 million to clean up beaches in its footprint, including the West Michigan shoreline.

Meijer is shoring up its sustainability commitment by taking part in a technology-based program that removes plastic pollution and other litter from beaches and waters in its operating area. Starting this month, the retailer is teaming up with the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) to lead cleanup projects at busy shorelines, waterways and marinas throughout its home state of Michigan, as well as in Ohio in Wisconsin.

The technology-meets-ecology projects are part of the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup Program and the local cleanups will be conducted by tech experts. Earlier this year, Meijer donated $1 million to the charitable arm of the CGLR to help fund the effort.

The partnership between Meijer and the CGLR rolled out this week with a demonstration of the innovative technologies conducted at a beach in the West Michigan city of Muskegon. Those technologies include a beach cleaning robot called BeBot, which rakes through 32,000 square feet per hour to gather waste in a basket for disposal or recycling. Water devices called Pixie Drones will also be deployed in area waters to collect and remove floating letter while also collecting important water data.

"It is a privilege to live near the Great Lakes, which inherently comes with the responsibility to protect them," declared Rick Keyes, Meijer’s president and CEO. "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."

Added Mark Fisher, president and CEO of CGLR: "The Great Lakes, which are at the heart of the bi-national Great Lakes economic region, are a globally significant natural resource. By partnering with companies like Meijer, which shares CGLR's strong commitment to building the region's future sustainability and economy today, we are able to keep our beaches and waterways clean and free of plastic litter as we work to ensure the materials we use as consumers never become waste by adopting a circular economy mindset in the region."

In addition to the shoreline cleanup programs, Meijer is working on various projects at the store level to help protect the Great Lakes. Those projects include the installation of gutter bin stormwater filtration systems at select locations to prevent pollutants from flowing into nearby waterways.

Privately owned Meijer operates more than 260 supercenters and grocery stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin. The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company is No. 20 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food retailers in North America.

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