The Kent County, Mich., Department of Public Works has issued a request for proposals seeking an anchor tenant as it continues to work toward converting part of its South Kent landfill into a sustainable business park.
The project, whose goal is to attract companies that specialize in reclaiming and converting waste material that would otherwise be dumped into the landfill, will be built on 250 acres adjacent to the waste facility in Byron Center. Kent County is in western Michigan.
“The vision of the Sustainable Business Park is to group businesses that can process waste and mutually benefit each other because of their physical closeness in the park, as well as from the processes they use to develop a feedstock or a fuel that benefits fellow tenants,” says Darwin Baas, director of the Kent County Department of Public Works, based in Grand Rapids.
The master plan for the business park was approved in 2018. The request for proposals solidifies its progress toward reclaiming or converting a significant portion of the 2.1 million cubic yards of solid waste landfilled by residents and businesses in Kent County each year.
“The Kent County Department of Public Works brought together national and local experts to create a plan for the sustainable business park to make West Michigan a leader in waste recovery,” Baas says. “The master plan is a roadmap that is helping our team move strategically forward on this new concept.”
The master plan guides work that needs to be done to develop the business park in context with the other pieces of Kent County’s plan to maintain an integrated solid waste system that moves the county closer to a material management planning process and further away from landfilling as its primary disposal outlet.
“The master plan provides a set of recommendations for how to prioritize diverting the most critical and impactful pieces of the waste flow to landfill,” Baas says.
Gershman, Brickner & Bratton (GBB) is one of the county’s advisers that served as the project team lead for a committee group of solid waste, engineering, and financing consultants. The county’s Department of Public Works also contracted directly with Byrum & Fisk Communications to advance marketing and communications for the effort, as well as local market experts Sustainable Research Group, and more recently added The Right Place to lead the economic development activity.
“The objective of the RFP is to identify innovative companies with proven track records who use technology to divert and process waste which is currently sent to landfills in West Michigan,” says Jennifer Porter, vice president of GBB, based in McLean, Va. “The desired company will have experience with mechanically sorting materials from residential, commercial, and industrial solid wastes.”
Following the mechanical separation process, the sorted plastics, metals, organic materials, and other resources will be further processed into new products and feedstocks such as engineered fuel, compost, building materials, and aggregates.
“This is not only better for the environment than landfilling, but it will also spur additional economic development activity and create more jobs,” says Porter.
Baas says the county is seeking a company that will work collaboratively with local and regional stakeholders.
“We’re looking for a company that has operating experience and skills that we consider either proven or demonstrated, based on their operational time, processing capacity and other factors at existing facilities in the U.S. or abroad,” he says. “Bottom line, our goal is to reduce waste going to landfill by 90% by 2030, so the company needs to be willing to work with Kent County to build operational capacity while at the same time being flexible as our inbound waste streams change due to national, state, or local policy, modifications in consumer behavior, and changes in the way products are manufactured.”
Questions about the request for proposals are due via email by July 22, and the proposal submission deadline is Sept. 9.