Thanks to a partnership with the binational Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) through the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup, a joint initiative of CGLR and Canada-based Pollution Probe, as well as generous funding and support provided from Meijer, a midwest retailer, Ohio Sea Grant plans to deploy two litter capture and clean-up devices, a BeBot and a Pixie Drone, at Hinckley Reservation and Fairport Harbor Beach, as well as other locations along the Ohio coast, in collaboration with local partners, Cleveland Metroparks, Lake Metroparks, Eriesponsible, Cuyahoga Community College Youth Technology Academy, Argonauts, and Port of Cleveland.
“The opportunity to work with project partners in Ohio to expand the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup to the United States, thanks to funding from Meijer, is an exciting partnership,” said Mark Fisher, president and CEO, Council of the Great Lakes Region. “Through this new collaboration, we will be able to capture and clean up more plastic litter in the Great Lakes, as well as educate coastal communities about how we can work together to reduce, reuse and recycle material waste.”
The Great Lakes region makes up 84% of North America’s surface freshwater; providing water for 107 million residents, and habitats for thousands of species, many unique to the region. Keeping this vital water resource clean and free of litter is essential, yet the Great Lakes face an alarming waste and plastic litter issue. Models estimate as much as 22 million pounds of plastic could be entering the Great Lakes every year through a variety of sources and pathways, polluting the lakes and their surrounding watersheds — something that will cost hundreds of millions of US dollars annually to combat.
In April 2022, Meijer, a Midwest retailer, donated $1 million to the Council of the Great Lakes Region’s charitable arm to clean up beaches and waterways with the purchase and use of a 100% electric, eco-friendly beach cleaning robot that mechanically sifts sand beach cleaning robot called the BeBot and a floating, remote-controlled, mobile waste collector called the PixieDrone, the single large deployment of these technologies in the Great Lakes region. The project will collect and analyze the litter in order to generate valuable data that will help coastal communities and the region learn about and prevent plastic litter and pollution and protect the Great Lakes now and for future generations.
“It’s a privilege to live near the Great Lakes, and it’s one we don’t take for granted, which is why we are taking steps to protect them,” said Erik Petrovskis, director of Environmental Compliance and Sustainability at Meijer. “Meijer was the first retailer to support the innovative technology in the Great Lakes last year, and thanks to our ongoing relationship with the Council of the Great Lakes Region and local NGO partners like Ohio Sea Grant, we’re able to expand our hands-on efforts to ensure their viability for generations to come.”
A media and launch event will be held on Friday, May 19, 2023 from 10:00-12:00 pm at Cleveland Metroparks Hinckley Reservation (904 Bellus Road, Hinckley, OH 44233). The event will be held outside on the beach, and near the water so please dress appropriately. Demonstrations of the equipment in use as well as some remarks about the project will take place.
The collaboration of the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup, Meijer, Ohio Sea Grant, Cleveland Metroparks, Lake Metroparks, Eriesponsible, and Cuyahoga Community College, is a step in the right direction toward combating our region’s plastic pollution problem and securing a more sustainable future.
“Ohio Sea Grant is very excited to be facilitating the project here in Ohio. Marine debris is one of the most pressing issues facing Lake Erie. The opportunity to be part of such an innovative project with support from Meijer and Council of the Great Lakes Region, in partnership with Cleveland Metroparks, Lake Metroparks, Eriesponsible, Cuyahoga Community College Youth Technology Academy, Argonauts, and Port of Cleveland, is wonderful,” said Dr. Christopher Winslow, director of Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory.
For more information, contact Jill Bartolotta, Ohio Sea Grant extension educator, at email@example.com or Ally Walker, program officer for the Council of the Great Lakes Region, at Ally@CouncilGreatLakesRegion.org. Be sure to follow the conversation @GLPCleanup and visit www.greatlakesplasticcleanup.org.
The Ohio Sea Grant College Program is part of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 34 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources.
The Council of the Great Lakes Region is a binational network of organizations comprised of the Council of the Great Lakes Region USA, an Ohio-based trade association; the CGLR Foundation, an Ohio-based public charity; and the Council of the Great Lakes Region Canada, a not-for-profit corporation. Together, these organizations, collectively referred to as the Council of the Great Lakes Region, are leading a new era of economic growth, environmental protection and individual well-being by building the region’s long-term competitiveness and sustainability today.
The Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup, an initiative of the Council of the Great Lakes Region and Pollution Probe with support from a network of funders and collaborators, uses innovative plastic capture technology to quickly capture and remove plastics and other litter from Lake Ontario to Lake Superior and everywhere in between and is one of the largest initiatives of its kind in the world. Through research, outreach and education, the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup is gathering data on litter entering our waterways and identifying how government, industry and consumers can work together to reduce, reuse and recycle material waste.