About this idea
Perfect Circle Recycling (PCR) is redefining what trash is in Michigan.
As one of only a handful of private companies helping businesses divert their waste from landfills, we partner with our customers to convert what most would consider garbage into more productive uses like renewable energy, compost, and fertilizer. We know exactly how much plastic, metal, cardboard, and organic material is derived from a single “diverted” product our customers send to us, and we have the relationships to find end uses for almost all materials we recover. This is the future of waste management, better described as “resource recovery,” and we’re proud to be at the forefront of the industry.
Over the past year, our company paid for a custom-developed database that enables us to track items arriving from our customers and then understand their potential end-uses. According to our data since 2020, PCR has processed over 6 million pounds of material that most companies considered “waste .” This includes nearly 2.5 million pounds of organic matter (that we were able to send to partner farms for feed), 158,000 lbs of plastic, and 213,800 lbs of cardboard. The products we received would have been sent to the landfill solely because of things like mislabelling, faulty truck refrigeration, or past sell-by dates. Instead, PCR coordinated this material’s conversion into renewable energy, animal nutrition, biofuel, and fertilizer. This is only a few years of data, yet a tremendous impact is already being facilitated.
Kent County, where Perfect Circle Recycling is based, has an ambitious target to divert 90% of waste from landfills by 2030. To accomplish this, the county is soliciting private sector partners to work together to reduce waste and find better end uses for the waste we can’t avoid.
We see ourselves as a key partner in Kent County’s waste diversion efforts. With 5x5 funding, we can provide our customers access to more granular diversion data--allowing them to see the impact of their diversion efforts. We’ll be the first recycling company in West Michigan to provide customers with the kind of detailed information they need to optimize their waste management practices and meet changing local and state targets.
Perfect Circle Recycling strives to be an enabler of the circular economy: helping our customers reduce material use and recapturing “waste” as a resource to manufacture into new materials, products, and energy.
Our customers will benefit directly because they need to know the mix of their current waste stream if they want to make meaningful long-term reductions. They’ll have access to data and a powerful story about how their otherwise unsalvageable products were depackaged and recycled. This knowledge will empower our customers to prevent unnecessary packaging from entering their supply chain in the first place, allowing them to benchmark their diversion rates yearly. With the ability to evaluate their progress, they will more easily comply with changing policies and save money by reducing what is ultimately sent to landfill.
Our customers will also gain an edge when it comes to changing consumer preferences around sustainability. Consumers want to know that they’re spending money at an establishment that’s a good steward of the environment. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals are increasingly driving long-term business strategy. With the 5 x 5 grant, Perfect Circle Recycling will be primed to capture this growing demand by the private sector for more transparent reporting.
Ultimately though, the general public is the final beneficiary of our work and the 5x5 grant. Clean air and water are limited resources that belong to everyone, and it’s our collective responsibility to ensure we live sustainably. Reducing what ends up in landfills and waste incinerators is just smart business and creates the least impact on the planet.
What I'll do with $5,000
We just finished the first phase of developing custom software that acts as a hub for our shipments, invoicing, and customer relationship management. The $5,000 5x5 grant would be used to work with our developer to fastrack phase 2: creating an online portal for our customers to access more granular data and trends. It’s currently a manual process to create reports or provide summary information for our customers, and 5x5 grant funding would help us create a first-of-its-kind platform in West Michigan.
The client-specific kind of data we hope to unlock for our customers includes things like:
- The total volume (units and weight) of all items diverted from landfill
- The most common products sent to PCR for disposal
- What commodities were generated (type and volume) from the products sent to PCR
- Month-over-month and year-over-year trends
- Relative comparisons against our industry averages
- One-click PDF’s for creating dynamic marketing materials referencing actual company information
Our system, as currently built, has the needed API endpoints to power these kinds of computations and access needs, making future development (as funding becomes available) a seamless process to resume. We’re also interested in leveraging the online portal described above for partners like universities & nonprofits who can help us further research, refine & understand the data we’re collecting.