Detroit Unveils BeBot Technology for Litter-Free Belle Isle Beach

Detroit is setting a precedent with the introduction of BeBot, a cutting-edge cleaning robot, as part of its commitment to environmental preservation. This initiative emerges from the collaborative efforts of the City of Detroit, Belle Isle Conservancy, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, CGLR Foundation, The Clorox Company, and Meijer, under the umbrella of the bi-national Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup campaign.

BeBot stands out as a pinnacle of litter removal innovation, being fully electric and operated by remote control. Its capability to cleanse 32,000 square feet per hour allows it to efficiently remove a wide range of plastic pollutants, including bottles, food wrappers, and cigarette butts, from the environment.

“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.” 

Funded by The Clorox Company and supported by Meijer, this initiative not only aligns with the Keep Belle Isle Beautiful campaign but also brings forth a novel approach to understanding and tackling plastic pollution in the Detroit River and beyond. Mark Fisher, President and CEO of the CGLR network, highlighted the Detroit River’s significance and praised the collaborative effort towards a sustainable Great Lakes region.

The BeBot program on Belle Isle is a testament to Meijer’s commitment to environmental stewardship, according to Erik Petrovskis, Director of Environmental Compliance and Sustainability at Meijer. He commended Detroit’s leadership and collaborative spirit in pioneering this initiative.

With the BeBot’s successful track record in other Great Lakes regions, its deployment on Belle Isle is expected to offer valuable insights into the plastic pollution challenge. The program’s expansion plans include the addition of a PixieDrone, a remotely operated floating waste collector, to further enhance local waterway cleanliness.

Niki King, Vice President of Sustainability at The Clorox Company, emphasized the importance of collaboration in tackling environmental challenges. “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,” she stated.

Beyond the exciting launch of the BeBot beach cleaner, Detroit’s heart is really in its ongoing efforts to keep our spaces green and clean, like the Keep Belle Isle Beautiful (KBIB) initiative that kicked off back in 2017. It’s been a game-changer in opening our eyes to the scary truth about single-use plastics and rallying the community to pick up countless littered items from our beloved Belle Isle and its surrounding waters.

The Belle Isle Conservancy is at the forefront of this, steering the BeBot during community clean-ups, digging into the nitty-gritty of waste analysis, and sharing the hard facts with all of us. Genevieve Rattray, who leads the charge on sustainability and advocacy there, shared, “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.” She’s pumped about joining forces with the City of Detroit, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the CGLR Foundation to push the envelope with new tech and ideas, all to keep our natural gems pristine and move us closer to a sustainable, circular economy.

The BeBot is making its grand entrance on Earth Day, amplifying the shared commitment to nurturing the environment and safeguarding the Detroit River and Great Lakes for the long haul. And get this – on World Ocean Day, June 8th at 9:30 am, Belle Isle will be the spot for the first-ever BeBot community cleanup, with more to follow until September.

Before BeBot officially starts its mission on Earth Day, it’ll be put through a series of thorough tests on Belle Isle Beach to ensure its effectiveness and efficiency in litter removal.

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