West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will present a luncheon on the Governor’s Recycling Initiative on Monday, February 9 at Grand Rapids Brewing Company in downtown Grand Rapids. Presented by Greener Grads and New Soil.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder recently announced a statewide plan designed to increase access to residential recycling throughout the state. “Michigan has a strong tradition of protecting and enhancing its environment,” Snyder said at the time. “But when it comes to recycling, we must do better. Michigan trails other Great Lakes states and much of the nation in residential recycling. It’s a complex challenge, but one that we can address. This plan puts us on the right path.”
Michigan’s recycling rate for residential household waste is believed to be about 15 percent while the national average is 35 percent. A recent study concluded more than $435 million in recyclables in the state are landfilled each year.
Steering that effort on behalf of the initiative is Matt Flechter, the State Recycling Market Development Specialist at Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He is a graduate of Michigan State University’s Collage of Lyman Briggs. After 14 years supporting the growth of Michigan recycling programs, his role is evolving to now focus on recycling market development so that the valuable commodities that Michigan businesses need make their way from the curb to new products.
Greener Grads provides schools nationwide an opportunity to collect, reuse and repurpose graduation gowns. Since the late 1970s when rental gowns were replaced with lighter, single-use polyester versions, the amount of waste generated by graduation apparel has been staggering. “100 million gowns have been produced since the graduation industry has moved away from the rental model,” said Greener Grads Managing Partner Seth Yon. “In just West Michigan, we have seen 5.5 million grads in that time. That means 5.5 million gowns…It’s a ridiculous number of one-time-use products.”
BarFly Ventures began in 2008 with HopCat, an award-winning brew pub in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. Stella’s Lounge and McFadden’s Irish Pub joined the Barfly family soon after. In December 2012, BarFly brought The Grand Rapids Brewing Company to downtown Grand Rapids. The BarFly family continues to grow, with HopCat expanding into East Lansing, Indianapolis, Detroit, Ann Arbor, and several other Mid West cities.
Grand Rapids Brewing Company is proud to be organic —but the entire brewery was designed from the ground up keeping its environmental impact in mind. Autumn Sands, Barfly Ventures’ sustainability coordinator, will discuss sustainability at Grand Rapids Brewing Company and Barfly’s many other establishments throughout Grand Rapids and the Midwest. She will be joined by Brian Smith of New Soil.
The meeting will also feature a presentation on the Michigan MSW Waste Characterization and Valuation Study, a project of the WMSBF Solid Waste Task Force.