BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A western Michigan county is hoping to shift the focus of its waste management operations by investing almost $230,000 in the planning of a sustainable business park development.

Kent County wants to build the park on more than 200 acres (80 hectares) of land that were initially set aside to expand the South Kent Landfill.

A preliminary estimate shows that about 75 percent of the nearly 500,000 tons (440,000 tonnes) of material entering the landfill could be reused, repurposed or recycled.

“I think it’s time to do it differently,” said Darwin Baas, the director of Kent County’s Department of Public Works.

Officials hope the sustainable business park could attract companies that focus on reclaiming or converting waste material. Officials said the park would increase the state’s green industry and reduce how quickly the area’s landfills grow.

The South Kent Landfill is projected to run out of room for more trash by 2030 if it sustains its current rate of growth. County officials instead hope to reduce landfill waste by 20 percent by 2020 and have a 90 percent reduction in landfill waste by 2030.

“We want to exit the landfill business by 2030,” Baas said.

Virginia-based consulting firm Gershman, Brickner & Bratton Inc. won the county contract to develop a plan for the property south of the landfill. Baas hopes to have a master plan ready to be presented to the county’s Board of Public Works and the Board of Commissioners by August 2018.

The county is currently working on collecting feedback from the community on the sustainable business park plan.

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