Event Review, WMSBF News

December Membership Meeting

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum hosted a luncheon discussion at Kendall College of Art and Design, featuring presentations from Perrigo and Grand Rapids Whitewater for its December education and networking program.

Photos of the event are available on our Facebook page.

Matt Chapman, Project Coordinator for Grand Rapids Whitewater (GRWW), provided an update on plans to remove dams and restore the rapids to the Grand River. The presentation illustrated historical uses of the Grand River, showcased the complexities of the project, provided a current project update, and explored the environmental, economic, and social benefits associated with a revitalized Grand River system.

Steve Ramus, Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Perrigo Company plc, discussed the company’s environmental and social initiatives, including its Environmental Stewardship program, Ethical and Social Compliance in the Supply Chain, annual CSR report, and compliance with the many different customer sustainability/CSR requirements.

Presentations available below:

– Grand River Revitalization & Rapids Restoration
– Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability at Perrigo

Thank you again to Kendall College of Art & Design for hosting this month’s meeting, and to the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds for sponsoring.

Event Review, WMSBF News

Review: A Wealth of Flows – A Circular Economy Workshop

The workshop featured local and national leaders in design and manufacturing that outlined a path for purposeful decisions and collaboration.

Keynote speakers included Ken Webster, Head of Innovation at The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, author of The Circular Economy: A Wealth of Flows, and Nathan Shedroff, Associate Professor, Industrial Design at California College of the Arts.

Presented by Grand Rapids Community Sustainability Partnership and West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum with additional support from Grand Valley State University, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, Steelcase, and other partners.

Event Review, WMSBF News

Review: September Meeting at Aquinas College

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum hosted a luncheon dialogue reflecting on the importance of internal and external partnerships, collaboration and diversity in moving forward elite sustainability initiatives this week at Aquinas College.

Photos of the event can be found on our Facebook page.

Featured speakers included the husband-and-wife partnership of Sean Ansett, a veteran of multi-stakeholder collaborations on behalf of major brands and civil society such as the Bangladesh Safety Accord, and Paloma Lopez, Global Director of Sustainability Activation for The Kellogg Company, responsible for embedding sustainability into the company’s business.

Lopez highlighted the necessity of working with people from different backgrounds, skillsets and perspectives when initiating sustainability programs, demonstrating the need for integrated sustainability functions and to be fluent in the many languages of business found throughout an organization.

Ansett shared his experiences working on behalf of corporate and social enterprises within multi-stakeholder partnerships to facilitate environmental, labor and economic outcomes.

Thank you again to Aquinas College for hosting this month’s Meeting.

Event Review, WMSBF News

Review: Green Leaders Golf & River Outing

WMSBF hosted the 12th Annual Future Green Leaders Golf & River Outing at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University. The outing serves as a networking event and fundraiser that provides sustainable business leaders and their allies, friends and colleagues a chance to enjoy the natural resources they work to protect while raising funds to support programs that introduce emerging professionals to opportunities in waste diversion, climate action and corporate social responsibility.

See photos on Facebook here.

Golfers enjoyed friendly competition on the links, with various team and individual awards to swing for. Meanwhile, kayakers launched from the GVSU Boathouse for a float down the Grand River. The event capped off with a reception hour, including hors d’oeuvres, Brewery Vivant beer, and the outing awards ceremony.

A special thank you to all those who participated in this year’s golf & river outing, provided door prizes, and sponsored. Many thanks to our door prize donors Long Road Distillers, Founders Brewing Co.Crystal Mountain, Experience Grand RapidsEssence Restaurant GroupGrand Valley State UniversityFrederik Meijer GardensGrand Rapids Art MuseumGrand Rapids Public Museum, Gerald R. Ford MuseumGraydon’s Crossing, Brewery Vivant, and Marie Catrib’s.

Also, thank you especially to sponsors AmwayPadnosExperience Grand RapidsThomas J. Newhouse DesignREHAU, and Brewery Vivant.

Thank you again and please plan to attend our next Membership Meeting at Aquinas College on September 11.

Member News, WMSBF News

WMSBF Launching Food Waste Council

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum has received a seed grant from the Michigan Local Food Council Network to promote food recovery among local businesses and institutions through the creation of a new multidisciplinary council of food waste stakeholders.

The Western Michigan Food Recovery Council will serve commercial and industrial markets in West and Southwest Michigan, principally Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Allegan and Berrien counties, with a particular emphasis on large grocery operations and the commercial and institutional food service operations that account for an estimated 48% of food waste landfilled in Michigan, according to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance.  The council will provide access to peer-to-peer education, multidisciplinary networking, technical resources, and opportunities for collaboration.

“There is an enormous economic and environmental value lost to waste within local food systems that could be retained with efforts to promote less-wasteful, money-saving practices among businesses and institutions,” said Daniel Schoonmaker, Executive Director of West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. “We can retain value through reuse options that feed the hungry or animals, through waste minimization, and the creation of marketable compost products and services.”

A recent WMSBF study found that Michigan disposes of an estimated 1.1 million tons of food waste through its municipal waste stream each year, the single largest source of material disposed in the state’s landfills and waste-to-energy facilities. West Michigan disposes of an estimated 132,000 tons of food waste, while Southwest Michigan disposes of an estimated 106,000 tons of food waste. Nationally, the USDA estimates that as much as 40% of food purchased is waste.   Business and institutions generate a slight majority of food waste, according to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, and offer the most opportunity for recovery improvement.

The council will be facilitated by WMSBF in partnership with GreenMichigan.org and the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Grand Valley State University.

Founding council members include representatives from SpartanNash, Meijer, Cocoa, Organicycle, Barfly Ventures, Bells Brewery, Gordon Food Service, Mercy Health, Spectrum Health, Creative Dining Services, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Kent County Department of Public Works, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Secchia Institute at Grand Rapids Community College, Lake Michigan College, and Feeding America West Michigan.

The Michigan Local Food Council Network is a program of the Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) at Michigan State University.  It has provided support for a dozen county local food councils across Michigan over the past year.  WMFRC is the first council in the network organized around a specific issue, and will collaborate with other network councils in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Kalamazoo and Berrien counties.

“Our goal is to strengthen the network of food councils across Michigan, and the WMFRC will fill a unique space in the state’s food council landscape,” said Liz Gensler, co-coordinator of the Michigan Local Food Council Network and Outreach Specialist at CRFS. “We see great potential for WMRFC to impact food recovery innovation both locally as they work alongside councils in West Michigan and across Michigan as they share learnings and the tools they develop through the network.”

Event Review, WMSBF News

Review: July Meeting at John Ball Zoo

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum hosted a luncheon discussing recent sustainability initiatives at John Ball Zoo and Founders Brewing Co. for its July membership meeting at the Bissell Tree House at John Ball Zoo.

View event photos on our Facebook page.

Allmon Forrester, Director of Facilities, Planning and Sustainability at John Ball Zoo and John Ball Zoo CEO Peter D’Arienzo discussed the zoo’s sustainability success stories, highlighting its efforts in waste reduction, energy efficiency and sustainable development, including the connection between animal conservation and sustainability.

Cody Green, the Environment, Health & Safety Specialist for Founders Brewing Company, shared how its efforts to sustainably dispose of wastewater from brewing operations led to a partnership with The City of Grand Rapids that will develop a city-operated biodigester.


The gathering also included a tour of the John Ball Zoo Sustainability Assets and Exhibits, which are aimed to both educate and challenge the organization and its community partners to participate in and learn about waste management, in hopes of achieving zero-waste in the years to come.

Thank you again to John Ball Zoo for hosting and sponsoring this month’s meeting.

Event Review, WMSBF News

Review: 2017 WMSBF Annual Meeting

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum hosted its 2017 Annual Meeting on Monday, June 19 at the University Club of Grand Rapids, which examined emerging sustainable business concerns presented by racial inequity, the built environment and other social and environmental issues.

View photos of the Annual Meeting on Facebook here.

View slides from the Annual Business Meeting and Strategic Plan Intro here.

Featured speakers included The City of Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, Rodney Martin, Diversity Partner at Warner Norcross & Judd, and Eric Foster of Progress Strategies+.

The WMSBF Annual Meeting also presented the organization’s new strategic plan, introduced its 2017-2018 Board of Directors, honored WMSBF 2017 President’s Award winner Jason Kehr of Valley City Electronic Recycling, and announced its new corporate social responsibility & equitable sustainability initiative for 2018.

The 2017 WMSBF Annual Meeting was presented by Warner Norcross & Judd.

Event Review, Member News

Review: Schupan Bottle Bill Tour 2

Schupan Recycling hosted WMSBF members to a tour of its bottle recycling facility on Tuesday, May 23.

Photos from the event can be found at our Facebook page.

The program included a presentation on Schupan’s recycling efforts, a Q&A session, tutorials in their demo area, and a guided walk-through of the indoor & outdoor recycling areas.

The 55,000-square foot facility processes 45,000 tons of material each year, including most Michigan deposit containers collected west of US-27, and miscellaneous other items, such as commodity material collected from events and full-product destruction.

WMSBF is trying to find ways to offer more value to its members through member-only events and mixers such as this.  We hope that members will share these opportunities with their colleagues and network so that they might take advantage of these services as well.

Event Review, WMSBF News

May Meeting: Sustainable Cleaning & Maintenance

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum hosted its May education and networking program this Monday on sustainable cleaning practices and technologies at the West Michigan Works! Grand Rapids Service Center, featuring speakers Daniel H. Montes, Vice President of Business Operations for Brilliant General Maintenance; Ron Segura, Founder and President of Segura & Associates; and Kristen Trovillion, Sustainability Coordinator for Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Photos of the event can be found on our Facebook page.

Montes and Segura shared their experiences creating and managing sustainable cleaning and maintenance programs for iconic technology and manufacturing brands in Silicon Valley and other markets in the Southwest and Michigan. Montes also discussed common challenges to implementing sustainability programs with janitorial contractors and departments and how to get buy-in from internal and external providers.

Trovillion highlighted Grand Rapids Public Schools’ recent efforts to adopt green cleaning, recycling and sustainable facility management practices. She also discussed the unique challenges of implementing a program in a public school environment and progress to date, including lessons on process, savings and training that can be applicable to all facilitates.

Thank you again to West Michigan Works! for hosting and Brilliant General Maintenance for sponsoring this month’s meeting.

Event Review, WMSBF News

April Meeting: Circularity Lessons from Carpet and Cradle to Cradle

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum hosted its April education and networking program in Holland this Monday, featuring the sustainability lead for the world’s largest carpet manufacturer on circular economy issues and sustainability, Paul Murray of Shaw Industries, at Haworth Inn & Conference Center.

Photos of the event can be found on our Facebook page.

Paul Murray discussed Shaw’s approach to sustainability focuses including transparency, material health, material reutilization, efficient use of resources, and social responsibility. He shared his unique outlook on holistic approaches to sustainability and the circular economy, as well as his teams role in helping Bill McDonough create and maintain the Cradle to Cradle model for product certification and integrate it into a company’s culture.

Also presenting at the meeting were Mark Theobald of Environmental Resources Management & Dan Nally of Holland Board of Public Works, who discussed their companies recent award winning work on the new Holland Energy Park.


Thank you again to the Holland-Hope Sustainability Institute for hosting and Environmental Resources Management for sponsoring this month’s meeting.