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Kent County meets with community to discuss sustainability, recycling plans

Recyclign bin in Grand Rapids
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
Recycling bin in Grand Rapids

The Kent County Department of Public Works met with community members Tuesday night to gather feedback on sustainable waste management plans.

Currently, the county recycles only 10% of its waste. The rest ends up in landfills.

The county plans to open a sustainable business park next to the landfill. It would help businesses turn their waste into usable products.

Kristen Wieland, Marketing and Communications Director with Kent County's Department of Public Works, says there will be more community meetings in the coming months.

“Really to make sure that this business park is a success, that it's the right thing for our community. We believe it is, but we want everyone to come together and help us make that decision,” Wieland said.

The department hopes to reduce landfill waste 20% by 2020, and 90% by 2030.

According to Wieland, Kent County processed over 1 billion pounds of waste last year. That's enough waste to fill Van Andel Arena eight times, or The Big House in Ann Arbor twice.

Dave Bultsma of Byron Center lives near the South Kent County Landfill. He says the sustainability plan is good for the county.

“I think the recycling idea is a good idea. It's a necessity, so I think they're working in the right direction,” Bultsma said.

At the current rate in Kent County, the landfill in Byron Center will be completely filled by 2029. This would mean the county would use over 200 acres of adjacent land to expand the current landfill.

The next community stakeholder meeting will be in the spring. For more information about the department’s plans, you can visit www.imaginetrash.org

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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