In an effort to eliminate the nearly 500,000 tons of trash disposed of by Kent County residents each year, the Department of Public Works is kicking off a series of meetings to explore the idea of building a sustainable business park next to the Byron Center Landfill. While the department over the past several years has been buying up 200 acres of property adjacent to the landfill with the original idea of simply expanding the dump once it became necessary to do so, officials in recent years have swapped that idea with a new one: use that property to construct a sustainable business park that would house multiple recycling companies. Department Director Darwin Baas says, the new facility could eliminate a large portion of the trash in the landfill by converting into useable products.
“We see the amount of material going in that has value in we think a sustainable business park can provide a long term solution,” Baas said. “That instead of developing another two hundred acres of landfill, this resource park can bring private and public sector companies together to provide long term solutions to managing our waste.”
The department hosted a community meeting Tuesday night to gain public and stakeholder’s input as department officials begin to construct a proposal to present to county commissioners in 2018. Baas adds the new waste conversion facility is part of the departments ultimate goal of reducing 90 percent of the trash in the Byron Center landfill by the year 2030.
“I don’t think anyone wants to continue generate the kind of waste that were generating, and how are we going to do it differently, and those are the answers that were looking for.”
The county may have financial incentives in mind as well. According to imaginetrash.org, West Michigan disposes of material totaling $56 million in potential economic value into its landfills every year.