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NextCycle pitch contest, EGLE grants boost Michigan recycling efforts

Ten recycling-minded competitors from around Michigan and beyond earned recognition and a financial boost in the latest NextCycle Michigan Showcase, a unique, Michigan-centric pitch contest to advance Michigan’s circular economy. And separate from the competition, Showcase participants this year have earned a total of $2.28 million in 2022 grants from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Winners are listed below.

Liesl Clark presents award to VMX International at NextCycle Showcase event.

EGLE Director Liesl Clark presents award to VMX International at NextCycle Showcase event.


EGLE Director Liesl Clark presented the $51,600 in Showcase awards at the Michigan Recycling Coalition’s (MRC) Season of Innovation: Fall into Recycling event Oct. 6-7 in Troy. A Showcase also took place this spring in Ann Arbor.

Clark noted that EGLE is focused on large-scale societal outcomes vital for the healthy future of Michigan families: decarbonizing the economy to avert the worst impacts of climate change; protecting and restoring the Great Lakes and Michigan’s inland waters; and ensuring that all Michiganders have clean air to breathe, safe water to drink, and healthy, vibrant communities to call home.

“When I think of your work to drive circular economy solutions to the forefront here in Michigan,” Clark told competitors, “I’m most inspired and impressed by the fact that it cuts across and contributes to all those big overarching outcomes.”

  • NextCycle prepares Showcase teams to pitch the potential of their innovative ideas. Entrepreneurs, investors, and industry leaders from Closed Loop Partners, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Michigan Capital Network, United Way, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Emmet County, EGLE, and PADNOS judged the Troy Showcase. Here are winners and prizes, along with amounts of 2022 EGLE grants some also have received:
  • Resource Recycling Systems Best in Show Award: $10,000 to Detroit-based BSG Tire Recycling and Grant-based Porous Pave to turn scrap tires into pathways and public areas throughout Detroit. The two companies also split $400 as the winners of the Shovel Ready People’s Choice Award. BSG received a $133,000 EGLE Market Development Grant for its project to sustainably reuse scrap tires in Detroit to make tree surrounds; mulch; aggregate for rainwater management; and low-maintenance, long-lasting paths – including for the 27.5-mile Joe Louis Greenway recreational pathway.
  • Centrepolis Accelerator Award: $10,000 to Fenton-based Recharge Recycling to develop a phased approach to collect, discharge, test, refurbish, and ultimately process and recycle lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles and other sources in the Flint area. The company also received a $100,000 Market Development Grant from EGLE.
  • Community Based Solutions Pitch Award: $7,500 to Benton Harbor Collaboration to develop recycling infrastructure and circular economy opportunities in Benton Harbor. The collaboration includes the City of Benton Harbor and the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum.
  • Beyond Recycling Pitch Award: $7,500 to Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit to deconstruct buildings in metro Detroit to keep environmental resources out of the waste stream, reutilize materials from demolition and Detroit's unique architecture, and make affordable housing materials available to low- and moderate-income families.
  • Shovel Ready Pitch Award: $7,500 to American Classic of Greenville to scale up its portable grinding operation for waste asphalt shingles to service all of Michigan. American Classic also received $19,825 in Market Development Grant funds to study the feasibility of creating a regional hub-and-spoke material recovery facility (MRF) to serve Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, and Newaygo counties, which currently have no MRFs.
  • Wheel of Innovation Pitch Award: $7,500 to Detroit-based VMX International to develop a recycling center in the city of Detroit focused on lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles. VMX International also received a $100,000 Market Development Grant for processing facility, which will include shredding and separation capability and feature hydrometallurgy technology. Recovered rare earth elements can be used as raw materials for next-generation products.
  • Community Based Solutions People’s Choice Award: $400 to the Pontiac Regional Chamber to bring local communities together for collaborative recycling opportunities and approaches to improve access and keep value in the region.
  • Beyond Recycling People’s Choice Award: $400 to Pink Elephant Events of Detroit to expand its zero-waste event services in Southeast Michigan to recover valuable materials for marketing and diversion from the landfill.
  • Wheel of Innovation People’s Choice Award: $400 to NecoTech of Delaware, Ohio, to create asphalt from mixed plastics for use in replacing deteriorating roads, bridges, and highways in Michigan.

EGLE has awarded the following 2022 grants to other Showcase participants:

  • $500,000 to Muskegon-based Goodwill Industries of West Michigan for a joint venture with Pennsylvania-based HydroBlox Technologies to convert at least 2 million pounds a year of Goodwill’s plastic waste into a 100% recycled content storm water management system for drainage and filtration.
  • $367,000 to San Francisco-based Glacier for its demonstration of robotic sorters at Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County (RRRASOC) and Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority (SOCRRA) – case studies for the efficacy of Glacier robots at other locations. The robots will mitigate labor shortages at both MRFs by recovering up to 950 additional tons of commodities a year.
  • $295,641 to Grand Rapids-based Noble Polymers for its work to divert mixed curbside residential plastics from landfills and develop and compound highly engineered recycled plastics for a wide range of manufacturing industries.
  • $166,000 to Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center (ISAIC) of Detroit to develop a production model for upcycling textile waste into felted fabric and a business plan for scaling this model through microfactories around the state.
  • $163,340 to SEEDS Ecology & Education Centers of Traverse City to support recommendations from a 10-county market development study and participation in NextCycle’s Foods, Liquids, & Organic Waste Systems (FLOWS) to accelerate organics diversion in the Grand Traverse region and northwest Michigan. SEEDS will expand capacity to collect, haul, and process organic materials, and work with local stakeholders to site and design a centralized composting system for food waste from area residents and businesses.
  • $113,711 to Detroit-based NexTiles for a project using textile waste from Detroit automotive manufacturing as feedstock for building insulation.
  • $100,000 to Washington, D.C.-based Suppliers Partnership for the Environment for a feasibility analysis and business plan development study to develop, evaluate, and recommend models for economically and practically collecting, aggregating, and pre-processing renewable packaging materials for the automotive supply chain.
  • $100,000 to Ontario-based Savormetrics for artificial intelligence-driven sensing to reduce food waste at the source and reduce energy consumption. 
  • $65,500 to Urban Ashes of Saline for its collaborative Circular UrbanWood Triconomy pilot program to capture about 400 metric tons of carbon dioxide by diverting urban trees from the wood waste stream while providing startup business and career opportunities for citizens and youths that have had contact with the justice system.
  • $55,660 to Western Michigan University Paper Pilot Plants in Kalamazoo to establish a lab to test paper and plastic materials for compostability and diversion from landfills.

Grantees not based in Michigan have operations in the state. NextCycle Michigan fosters partnerships and develops investment-ready project plans to keep waste out of landfills and build Michigan manufacturers’ demand for recovered materials, bringing new business with a focus on solutions that are equitable and positive for the environment.

EGLE launched the NextCycle initiative in 2021 to connect entrepreneurs, companies, organizations, and communities to technical support, financial resources, and capacity building for recycling, recovery, and reuse. Resource Recycling Systems manages and facilitates NextCycle in collaboration with Lawrence Technological University’s Centrepolis Accelerator and the MRC.