Partnership hopes to covert portion of landfill into sutainable business park

Mar 11, 2019

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There’s a vision for transforming a portion of the 240-acre South Kent Landfill in Byron Center into a Sustainable Business Park. The Kent County Department of Public Works recently entered into a multi-year partnership with regional nonprofit economic development organization, The Right Place, to help advance the project.

The typical business park is a clustering of offices where supporting infrastructure is in place. Imagine a similar blueprint for the Kent County Sustainable Business Park with an infrastructure in place for anaerobic digesting, composting, methanol or ethanol fuel production, construction demolition debris and traditional recycling into commodities.

“And it may even provide an opportunity for a micro-grid where we’re generating our own energy to support the efforts for the park.”

Dar Baas is director of the Kent County Department of Public Works. He tells us Sustainable Business Park could generate $500 million in direct private sector capital investment and 150 jobs could be created by processing and waste sorting. The strategic plan involves working with multiple local governments. The Right Place has the expertise to handle that and to work with the dozens of companies expressing an initial interest in recent years.

“And there have been a lot of companies since then that have engaged us and have said, ‘Hey, we’d love to be a part of that, too.’ So, as we go back to them and say ‘let’s get into the detail, specifically let’s look at your technology, let’s look at the cost, let’s look at the footprint you need and the financing. Is this going to be publically financed or privately financed? What does that look like?’ So, they’ll be doing that.”

Baas says Kent County processes over 1 billion pounds of waste each year and estimates 75 percent of that waste could be reused, recycled, or converted.