DPW draws global interest for business park

Sustainable facility is part of plan to reduce Kent County landfill waste by 90% in next 10 years.
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Nine companies have expressed an interest in being the anchor tenant of the sustainable business park that will be located in Byron Center. Courtesy Kent County DPW

The Kent County Department of Public Works announced it has received nine responses to a Request for Proposals issued in June for an anchor tenant at the future sustainable business park in Byron Center.

The RFP process is the next step in implementing the Sustainable Business Park Master Plan, which was approved in fall 2018, and solidifying progress toward reclaiming a significant portion of the 2.1 million cubic yards of waste sent to landfills by residents and businesses in Kent County each year.

“The RFP process was designed to attract companies that have demonstrated they can handle this volume of waste and be part of a public-private partnership with the Kent County Department of Public Works to assist in our goal of diverting 90% of trash from the South Kent Landfill by 2030,” said Dar Baas, director of the Kent County Board of Public Works. “Proposals came in from companies across the country and globe, and we are excited to begin reviewing them and finding a partner to achieve our landfill diversion goal.”

The objective of the RFP process was to identify innovative companies with proven track records that use technology to divert and process waste, which is currently sent to landfills in West Michigan, with the goal of selecting one company that could occupy the anchor tenant role.

The RFP drew worldwide attention as the DPW received proposals from companies headquartered in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Companies on the list of respondents include Boss Alliance, Continuus, Envision Waste Services, Genesis Industrial Group, RePower South, Sacyr Environment USA, Urbaser Inc. WastAway and Zi-Technologies Inc.

Baas said the RFP required that companies share their project plans, but the DPW didn’t have any specifics to share at press time. The DPW will be looking to an evaluation team to review the proposals and compare various project plans.

The ideal anchor tenant would have experience with mechanically sorting materials from the mixture of waste currently delivered to landfills, including residential, commercial and industrial solid waste, he said.

Following the mechanical separation process, the sorted plastic, wood, organic and other materials will be further processed into new products or feedstocks, such as engineered fuel, compost, building materials, aggregates and other usable materials. This is not only better for the environment than landfilling, Baas said, but it also will spur additional economic development activity and create more jobs.

The next step in the process will be to review and evaluate each proposal. The evaluation team is made up of representatives from The Right Place Inc.; Gershman, Bricker & Bratton Inc.; Fishbeck; and Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications.

The evaluation team will be vetting these companies over the next few months based on fiscal soundness of their business plans, technical operating capabilities, environmental benefits and impacts, costs to the users and/or Kent County and how their project plans intend to reduce waste going to landfills by 90% by 2030, among other criteria.

Tim Mroz, vice president of strategic initiatives for The Right Place, who also sits on the evaluation committee, said the sustainable business project presents an opportunity for West Michigan, not only in economic terms, but also in positioning the region to be a leader in sustainability.

“From the beginning we knew that this vision for a sustainable business park was going to be a global project,” said Mroz. “In many ways the U.S. trails the world in terms of waste management. We knew this was going to gain interest from companies around the globe.”

The review team, along with a stakeholder review committee appointed by Kent County DPW, will begin evaluating proposals based on a set of criteria, including cost, technology maturity, capabilities, diversion rates and environmental benefits. 

Finalists will be determined in late 2020 with a final recommendation being presented to the Board of Public Works and Kent County Board of Commissioners in spring 2021.

The DPW also encouraged team responses to the RFP by which an anchor facility could be supported by smaller secondary and tertiary tenants.

The RFP specified the anchor tenant facility will be designed, built, permitted, operated and maintained by the company. The county will be a partner in ensuring that there is adequate infrastructure, material available to process, and handle residuals that cannot be processed.

RFP respondents were required to demonstrate that they have the capacity to convert at least 50% of the inbound waste materials.

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