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NextCycle Michigan program to build state's recycling and recovery economy

NextCycle Michigan logoA free webinar tomorrow, Dec. 15, will allow participants to learn about the function and benefits of a business incubator, get information on participating in NextCycle Michigan, and hear examples from businesses that benefited from participating in Colorado NextCycle — a similar program built on the business incubator concept.

To participate, register for the Accelerating Recycling and Recycled-Content Manufacturing in Michigan webinar or contact Matt Flechter at Please visit the NextCycle Michigan website to learn more and register to get more information as NextCycle Michigan unfolds in 2021.

Every year, Michigan businesses bury 6.8 million tons of material in landfills that could be recycled. If 2.7 million tons of that material could be recovered, Michigan would reach a 45% diversion rate, material that is recovered or recycled, and add $9 billion in economic activity annually in labor alone.

If that newly recovered material is put to its higher and better use, it would spur more than $30 billion in direct and indirect economic activity, according to a recent opportunity analysis developed for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) by Resource Recycling Systems (RRS).

That's the goal of NextCycle Michigan, a unique public-private partnership designed to attract end markets for recyclable materials through new companies and new jobs in Michigan, leveraging state dollars with private investment.

NextCycle Michigan provides significant support to the Governor's recent climate commitment to build a just and resilient carbon-neutral economy by 2050. Reaching the 45% diversion rate avoids 7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) a year, which is equivalent to 3.5 times the community-wide emissions of Grand Rapids.

"NextCycle Michigan is a unique approach to fundraising for recycling and recovery projects in Michigan," said Matt Flechter, who is managing this project for EGLE. "These projects will benefit Michiganders, local economies and our environment."

NextCycle Michigan will have six innovation challenge tracks or focus areas:

  • Food, Liquids, and Organic Waste (FLOWS) track attracts innovation in the organic space.
  • Recycling Supply Chain (RSC) track attracts innovation in the recycling supply chain.
  • Recycling, Innovation, and Technology (RIT) is a recycling innovation and technology track that invites teams into a "challenge" to develop innovative solutions to grow Michigan's recycled economy and improve the state's recovered resource management.
  • Roads and Pathways (ROADS) track attracts innovation in the road/bike path paving space.
  • Small Grants (MICROS) track attracts small-scale innovative solutions for collection, processing, and material use or could serve as seed-funding to foster preparation for teams in the other Innovation Challenges.
  • Intergovernmental Initiatives (I2) track drives innovation in the public sector and explores how local governments and the private sector can work together to build Michigan's circular economy.

EGLE's initiative joins program partners RRS, Centrepolis, and the Michigan Recycling Coalition (MRC) to spearhead NextCycle Michigan. Technical support for innovation participants is paramount for this program. The program partners engage data-driven resources and the business community to assist possible participants resulting in powerful business pitches. The months-long incubation process will end in a pitch session and the winning teams receive financial support for their initiatives.

Program partners include RRS, a leading international recycling consultancy based in Ann Arbor, Centrepolis Accelerator, a leading tech incubator based at Lawrence Tech University focused on manufacturing, and Michigan Recycling Coalition, the leading NGO supporting recyclers and composters in Michigan. NextCycle Michigan is seeking entrepreneurs from across the state to engage with these innovation challenge tracks.

To fund the program, NextCycle Michigan will recruit partners who are interested in becoming leaders in Michigan's circular economy. These partners will provide funds for award pools, challenge prizes, and problem sets within their industries they're hoping to solve through NextCycle. The program works to identify venture capital, angel investors, pre-seed capital, and social impact investors interested in exploring the untapped economic opportunity in the growing Michigan circular economy. The NextCycle Michigan team has already identified 100 million dollars of investment underway or planned in Michigan.

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