Beach and Water Cleaning Drones in the Great Lakes
Meijer is First Retailer to Unveil Beach and Water Cleaning Drones in the Great Lakes in Partnership with the Council of the Great Lakes Region
Effort launches retailer's participation in the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup Program
Meijer is launching its participation in the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup Program with the use of two innovative technologies – the BeBot and Pixie Drone – to clean up Midwestern beaches and waterways in partnership with the Council of the Great Lakes Region.
This initiative is supporting the single largest deployment of these types of eco-friendly and remote-controlled devices across multiple states in the Great Lakes, which encompass the largest surface freshwater system in the world.
Midwest retailer Meijer is launching its participation in the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup Program with the use of two innovative technologies – the BeBot and Pixie Drone – to clean up Midwestern beaches and waterways in partnership with the Council of the Great Lakes Region.
"It is a privilege to live near the Great Lakes, which inherently comes with the responsibility to protect them," Meijer President & CEO Rick Keyes said. "Contributing to the conservation of these invaluable waterways is important to the wellbeing 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."
Beginning this month, Meijer and the CGLR will lead cleanup projects at busy beaches, marinas and waterways in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin in partnership with a variety of community, state and environmental NGO partners. The retailer kicked off its efforts with a press conference at Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon earlier this week that included a live demonstration of the innovative equipment:
- BeBot: An eco-friendly, remote-controlled electric (solar and battery powered) beach cleaning robot – that cleans 32,000-square-feet per hour. It rakes through the sand without altering the beach environment, and collects plastic litter and other waste – bottles, cans, food wrappers, cigarette butts – in a basket for disposal and recycling.
- Pixie Drone: An eco-friendly, remote-controlled water drone – that can collect up to 200 pounds of material per use – will navigate through marinas and other waterways to collect plastic litter and other waste debris floating on the surface of the water. It will also collect other water data, such as temperature, pH, salinity, turbidity and dissolved oxygen.
Representatives from the Grand Valley State University Annis Water Resources Institute (GVSU-AWRI) will operate the equipment along the Muskegon lakeshore.
"Microplastics have become one of the most pressing issues facing our waterways, both in the Great Lakes and on a global scale; we are both excited and honored to be part of Meijer's initiative to fund new technologies to address this problem," said Dr. Al Steinman, the Allen and Helen Hunting Research Professor at GVSU-AWRI. "It is critical to resolve the microplastic dilemma, not only for the ecology of our local waters, but also for the economy of our coastal communities, who visit and recreate on our beaches and lakes with the expectation they are clean and pollutant-free. The BeBot and Pixie Drone will help ensure those expectations are met."
"The City of Muskegon is thrilled to participate in the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup Program and serve as home to the BeBot and Pixie Drone, which will strengthen stewardship of our precious waterways and majestic Pere Marquette Beach," Muskegon Mayor Ken Johnson said. "We're excited to see these innovative devices in action, and our community is grateful for the collaboration of Meijer, the GVSU Annis Water Resources Institute, and the Council of the Great Lakes Region in advancing this eco-friendly initiative."
The BeBot and Pixie Drones were funded by a $1 million donation Meijer made to the charitable arm of the CGLR in the United States – the CGLR Foundation – earlier this year. The deployment of these devices are part of the expansion of the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup's plastic capture and recovery effort, an initiative that started in 2020 by the CGLR and Pollution Probe.