MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — An eco-friendly beach robot known as BeBot made its debut Thursday as it cleaned microplastics from Pere Marquette Beach.
The remote-controlled technology can clear debris that is as small as 3 cm. Microplastics are often overlooked during beach cleanups, but they contribute to the pollution of the country’s waterways.
“We are talking about drinking water here in the Great Lakes, the Muskegon city water filtration plant is directly behind us,” city Manager Jonathan Seyferth said. “That provides the water for most of the residents here in the southern part of Muskegon County.”
Volunteers from Grand Valley State University, Meijer and the Alliance for the Great Lakes also participated in the beach cleanup. The trash collected by BeBot was weighed while additional data was collected.
“Over 40 million people get their drinking water from the Great Lakes,“ said Olivia Reda with Alliance for the Great Lakes. “So it’s super important to make sure the Great Lakes are healthy.”
GVSU’s Annis Water Resources Institute tested BeBot several times last year.
“With those seven events we collected about 6,000 pieces of material. About 65% of that was plastic … and of that 65%, 60% was down in that 3 CM size range. So the really small stuff,” Interim Director Mark Luttenton said.