City of Detroit, MI

04/09/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/09/2024 07:21

City of Detroit to Launch ‘BeBot’ Litter Removal Technology to Clean Up Belle Isle Beach

  • The BeBot is to be deployed on Belle Isle and the Detroit River for the first time as a result of a collaboration between the City of Detroit, the Belle Isle Conservancy, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, CGLR Foundation, The Clorox Company, and Meijer as part of the bi-national Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup.
  • The BeBot, the latest in litter removal technology, is a fully electric, remote-controlled beach cleaning robot that is able to clean 32,000-square-feet per hour, removing large and small pieces of plastic from the environment, such as bottles, food wrappers, cigarette butts, and other broken down plastic particles.
  • Data from the project will help the partners understand the sources and pathways of plastic litter and pollution on the island and the Detroit River, which is shared by the United States and Canada.
  • The BeBot will launch on Earth Day and will complement existing waste clean-up initiatives, such as Keep Belle Isle Beautiful, led by the Belle Isle Conservancy.

Today, the City of Detroit announced the 'BeBot', introduced within the framework of the Belle Isle Conservancy's environmental campaign, Keep Belle Isle Beautiful. This innovative initiative is part of the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup, a collaborative effort between the CGLR Foundation in the U.S. and Pollution Probe in Canada, targeting enhanced plastic litter removal and reduction on Belle Isle Beach. In partnership with the Belle Isle Conservancy, the State of Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), and the GGLR Foundation, the BeBot deployment represents a significant step forward in utilizing innovative technology to preserve and protect our natural environment, including the international Detroit River.

The BeBot, an advanced method for managing litter, is a completely electric beach cleaning robot operated remotely. With the capability to cover 32,000 square feet per hour, it efficiently clears away various sizes of plastic debris from the environment including bottles, food wrappers, cigarette butts, and fragmented plastic particles.

The BeBot, a cutting-edge litter removal robot, to be deployed on Belle Isle and the Detroit River, offers rapid, electric cleaning and data collection to combat plastic pollution.

"This partnership exemplifies our commitment to leveraging technology and collaboration to address environmental challenges," said Tim Slusser, Chief of the Office of Mobility Innovation at the City of Detroit. "By harnessing the power of BeBot, we are taking proactive steps to combat litter pollution and preserve the beauty of Belle Isle for generations to come."

The BeBot, the latest in litter removal technology, is the result of a collaborative effort between the City of Detroit's Office of Mobility Innovation and the CGLR Foundation thanks to funding from The Clorox Company and ongoing support from Midwest retailer Meijer. With MDNR's support, the BeBot will be deployed to Belle Isle Beach, where it will work alongside existing clean-up initiatives led by the Belle Isle Conservancy to ensure a cleaner, healthier environment for all visitors. Funding for this project was generously provided by The Clorox Company to the CGLR foundation.

"The Detroit River serves a vital economic and ecological corridor between the United States and Canada," said Mark Fisher, the President and CEO of the CGLR network. "By partnering with the City of Detroit and the Belle Isle Conservancy, as well as The Clorox Company and Meijer that share our commitment to sustainability in the Great Lakes region, we are able to keep our beaches and waterways clean and free of plastic litter as we work to end plastic waste by moving to a circular economy."

The BeBot has already proven its effectiveness in removing and studying the sources and pathways of plastic litter on Great Lakes beaches in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin with funding from Meijer. With clean-up efforts gaining momentum in the region, the introduction of the BeBot on Belle Isle offers a unique and impactful solution to learn about and tackle the plastic litter pollution challenge facing not only the island and Detroit River, but the entire Great Lakes basin.

"Meijer is proud to support the BeBot pilot program on Belle Isle Beach, which demonstrates our commitment to environmental stewardship and innovation in the Great Lakes region," said Erik Petrovskis, Director of Environmental Compliance and Sustainability at Meijer. "As a family company with a long history of serving Michigan communities, we care deeply about the health and beauty of our natural resources and the well-being of our customers and team members. We applaud the City of Detroit for their leadership and collaboration in this groundbreaking initiative to reduce plastic waste and protect our waterways."

The City of Detroit and partners will be seeking to secure funding in the future to expand the initiative with an additional BeBot as well as a PixieDrone, which is a remotely operated floating waste collector that would be deployed in local waterways.

"Preserving and protecting our natural environment is a complex challenge that we can't tackle alone, so it's imperative to work with partners that share our goal of creating a cleaner world," said Niki King, Vice President of Sustainability at The Clorox Company. "United by our shared ambition to help communities thrive, we're proud to support this innovative program led by the CGLR Foundation and City of Detroit alongside our partners at Meijer. We firmly believe that by working together we can amplify our impact and protect the planet we all share."

The launch of the BeBot is scheduled to coincide with Earth Day, underscoring our collective dedication to environmental stewardship and protecting the Great Lakes for future generations.

In addition to the BeBot pilot program, the City of Detroit remains committed to ongoing clean-up initiatives, including the Keep Belle Isle Beautiful (KBIB) campaign launched in 2017. KBIB has played a vital role in educating the community about the dangers of single-use plastics while removing tens of thousands of littered items from Belle Isle and its waterways.

The Belle Isle Conservancy, who will operate the Bebot during public cleanup events, conduct waste characterizations, and collect and report metrics from findings.

"Since 2017, the Belle Isle Conservancy has educated thousands on the dangers of single-use plastic, removed upwards of 40,000 pounds of littered plastic pollution from Belle Isle and its waterways, and collaborated with local artists and designers to reuse waste collected at our cleanups to create and exhibit visual narratives around sustainability," says Genevieve Rattray, Director of Sustainability and Advocacy for the Belle Isle Conservancy. We are excited to work in partnership with the City of Detroit, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the CGLR Foundation to foster innovation and innovative technologies as we continue to protect and preserve our natural resources and make critical movement towards adopting the principles, practices and policies of a circular economy."

The launch of the BeBot is scheduled to coincide with Earth Day, underscoring our collective dedication to environmental stewardship and protecting the Detroit River and Great Lakes for future generations. Celebrating World Ocean Day, the Belle Isle Conservancy will host its first BeBot community cleanup on Saturday, June 8th at 9:30 am at the Belle Isle Beach. Cleanups will take place regularly through September.

Before its official deployment on Earth Day, the BeBot will undergo rigorous testing on Belle Isle Beach to ensure its effectiveness and efficiency in litter removal.

Residents and visitors are also encouraged to participate in public clean-up events, such as the Saturday Public Cleanups and Beach Cleanups, which provide opportunities for hands-on involvement in maintaining the cleanliness of Belle Isle.

For more information about the BeBot pilot program and upcoming clean-up events, please visit https://www.belleisleconservancy.org/cleanup for more details.

About the City of Detroit's Office of Mobility Innovation (OMI):

The Office of Mobility Innovation (OMI) exists to help the City of Detroit navigate the rapidly changing transportation and mobility industries. Transportation and mobility are essential for both people and businesses and Detroit's automotive heritage provides an unparalleled opportunity to work with industry to innovate and define their future.

OMI will lead mobility advancement efforts on behalf of the City of Detroit and collaborate with industry, academia, philanthropy, and local, state and federal government. By centering residents in every step of the process, OMI is focused on leveraging mobility as a pathway to opportunity in Detroit.

For additional information about OMI, please visit https://detroitmi.gov/government/mayors-office/office-mobility-innovati… follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Youtube and Instagram

About Belle Isle Conservancy

Belle Isle Conservancy's mission is to protect, preserve, restore, and enhance the natural environment, historic structures, and unique character of Belle Isle as a public park for the enjoyment of all - now and forever. A result of merging four groups dedicated to supporting the park, Belle Isle Conservancy works in close partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the City of Detroit to bring additional resources to supporting and sustaining the park. Visit https://www.belleisleconservancy.org/ to learn more.

About the CGLR

The CGLR is a binational group of related organizations comprised of: (1) the Council of the Great Lakes Region (USA), an Ohio-based trade association; (2) the CGLR Foundation, an Ohio-based public charity; (3) the Council of the Great Lakes Region (Canada), a not-for-profit corporation; and (4), the CGLR Canada Foundation, a charitable organization. Together, they are working to accelerate the regional transition to a sustainable future by uniquely bringing diverse perspectives and interests together as one to explore and solve the most pressing socioeconomic and environmental challenges facing the Great Lakes region to create the first sustainable region in North America and the world. Visit https://councilgreatlakesregion.org to learn more.

About the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup

The Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup, an initiative of the Council of the CGLR and Pollution Probe, uses innovative technologies to quickly remove plastics from Great Lakes beaches and waterways, from the St. Lawrence River to Lake Superior and everywhere in between. The litter collected is analyzed, providing vital information about pollution sources and pathways and how government, industry, communities, and consumers can work together to end plastic waste. The largest initiative of its kind in North America, the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup is made possible thanks to support from a network of funders and collaborators across the binational Great Lakes region. Visit www.greatlakesplasticcleanup.org to learn more.

About The Clorox Company

The Clorox Company (NYSE: CLX-C) champions people to be well and thrive every single day. Its trusted brands, which include Brita®, Burt's Bees®, Clorox®, Fresh Step®, Glad®, Hidden Valley®, Kingsford®, Liquid-Plumr®, Pine-Sol® and Natural Vitality®, can be found in about nine of 10 U.S. homes and internationally with brands such as Clorinda®, Chux® and Poett®. Headquartered in Oakland, California, since 1913, Clorox was one of the first in the U.S. to integrate ESG into its business reporting. In 2024 the company was ranked No. 1 on Barron's 100 Most Sustainable Companies list for the second consecutive year. Visit thecloroxcompany.com to learn more.

About Meijer:

Meijer is a privately owned, family-operated retailer that serves customers at more than 500 supercenters, grocery stores, neighborhood markets, and express locations throughout the Midwest. As the pioneer of the one-stop shopping concept, more than 70,000 Meijer team members work hard to deliver a friendly, seamless in-store and online shopping experience featuring an assortment of fresh foods, high-quality apparel, household essentials, and health and wellness products and services. Meijer is consistently recognized as a Great Place to Work and annually donates at least 6 percent of its profit to strengthen its communities. Additional information on the company can be found by visiting newsroom.meijer.com.