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Pitch competition advances Michigan's circular economy

Teams from Detroit, around Michigan, and beyond also earn more than $2M in EGLE grants

Victors in a unique, Michigan-centric pitch competition that focuses on recycling, reuse, and renewable resource projects in Michigan have split $51,600 in prize money to help see their visions through. Winners are listed below. Among the competitors were recipients of more than $2 million in grants for 2022 from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Those awardees also are listed below.

NextCycle Michigan – an EGLE initiative to connect entrepreneurs, companies, organizations, and communities to tech support, financing, and capacity building to advance Michigan’s circular economy – hosted the Showcase competition at the Michigan Recycling Coalition’s (MRC) Season of Innovation: Fall into Recycling event Oct. 6-7 in Troy. EGLE Director Liesl Clark presented the awards.

NextCycle prepared teams from businesses and other organizations to pitch their project ideas at the competition, judged by 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. Awards and winners are:

Resource Recycling Systems Best in Show Award: $10,000 to BSG Tire Recycling, Detroit, and Porous Pave, Grant, to turn scrap from tires into pathways and public areas in Detroit. The companies also split a $400 Shovel Ready People’s Choice Award.

Centrepolis Accelerator Award: $10,000 to Recharge Recycling, Fenton, to collect, process, and recycle lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles and other sources in the Flint area.

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 to keep environmental resources out of the waste stream and make affordable reused housing materials available to low- and moderate-income families.

Shovel Ready Pitch Award: $7,500 to American Classic, Greenville, to scale up its portable grinding operation for waste asphalt shingles to service all of Michigan.

Wheel of Innovation Pitch Award: $7,500 to VMX International, Detroit, to develop a recycling center in Detroit focused on lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles.

Beyond Recycling People’s Choice Award: $400 to Pink Elephant Events, Detroit, to expand its zero-waste event services in Southeast Michigan to recover valuable materials for marketing and diversion from landfills.

Community Based Solutions People’s Choice Award: $400 to Pontiac Regional Chamber to bring local communities together for collaborative recycling opportunities.

Wheel of Innovation People’s Choice Award: $400 to NecoTech, Delaware, Ohio, to create asphalt from mixed plastics for use in roads, bridges, and highways in Michigan.

2022 EGLE grants

Separate from the competition, participants in the Troy Showcase and a previous contest this spring in Ann Arbor have earned a total of $2.28 million in 2022 grants from EGLE:

Goodwill Industries of West Michigan, Muskegon, received $500,000 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 recycled content storm water management system.

Glacier, San Francisco, received $367,000 for demonstrating 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 materials recovery facilities (MRF) by recovering up to 950 additional tons of commodities a year.

Noble Polymers, Grand Rapids, received $295,641 for work to divert mixed curbside residential plastics from landfills and develop and compound recycled plastics for a wide range of manufacturing industries.

Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center (ISAIC), Detroit, received $166,000 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.

SEEDS Ecology & Education Centers, Traverse City, received $163,340 to participate in NextCycle’s Foods, Liquids, & Organic Waste Systems to accelerate diverting organics from landfills in the Grand Traverse region and northwest Michigan.

BSG Tire Recycling received $133,000 to sustainably reuse scrap tires in Detroit to make products and low-maintenance, long-lasting paths, including for the 27.5-mile Joe Louis Greenway recreational pathway.

NexTiles, Detroit, received $113,711 for a project using textile waste from Detroit automotive manufacturing as feedstock for building insulation.

Recharge Recycling received $100,000 to provide a platform in Michigan for testing, diagnosing, discharging, refurbishing, and recycling electric vehicle battery packs.

Savormetrics, Mississauga, Ontario, received $100,000 for artificial intelligence-driven sensing to reduce food waste at the source and reduce energy consumption.

Suppliers Partnership for the Environment, Washington, D.C., received $100,000 for a study to develop, evaluate, and recommend models for economically and practically collecting, aggregating, and preprocessing renewable packaging materials for the automotive supply chain.

VMX International received $100,000 for a lithium-ion battery processing facility from which recovered rare earth elements can be used as raw materials for next-generation products.

Urban Ashes, Saline, received $65,500 for a 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 people who have had contact with the justice system.

Western Michigan University Paper Pilot Plants, Kalamazoo, received $55,660 to establish a lab to test paper and plastic materials for compostability and diversion from landfills.

American Classic received $19,825 to study the feasibility of creating a regional hub-and-spoke MRF to serve Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, and Newaygo counties, which currently have no MRFs.

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. Resource Recycling Systems manages and facilitates NextCycle in collaboration with Lawrence Technological University’s Centrepolis Accelerator and the MRC.