ROC Detroit Launch Event Briefing

The Reuse Opportunity Collaboratory Detroit (ROC Detroit) was launched on September 30th, 2014 at the General Motors Renaissance Center. A diverse group of companies, academic institutions, non-profits and government agencies gathered together with a strong common interest in creating environmental, beneficial societal and economic opportunities from Detroit’s underutilized materials.

IMG_3368Close to 100 participants attended the launch event, and discovered a number of reuse opportunities following the exchange of basic information about their by-products generation and needs. By the end of the meeting, all participants understood the business-to-business material reuse process, best practices, and its value proposition; and had begun the journey of finding economically viable reuse opportunities.

As a partner of ROC Detroit, Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) introduced their match-making platform to the launch event, which allows selected corporations with operations in Michigan, referred to as partner companies, to connect with small and medium-sized companies to implement by-product reuse solutions. PMBC worked closely with by-product experts from partner companies General Motors, Walker-Miller Energy, Alpha Resins, Aevitas Specialty Corp, Dow Materials and Marathon Petroleum to identify waste reuse needs.

39 companies applied for 1:1 meetings with these companies and were invited to attend the ROC-Detroit event, and nearly half were selected for private appointments with the matched companies to discuss their capabilities further. Preliminary results indicate that the experience was positive for all companies involved. PMBC will later survey all of the participating companies to confirm specific outcomes resulting from the facilitated interactions during the event.

Data Summary

Over 150 available or wanted materials were captured from the two roundtable sessions, which grouped participants together to discuss their value chains and capture their top resource challenges. Chemicals, Plastic & Rubber, and Packaging are the top three categories of materials discussed in the meeting among the participants. A full breakdown of the resource types discussed can be seen below.

Resource Type Breakdown
Construction and Demolition: 16
Business Development: 13
Plastic and Rubber: 29
Metal and Minerals: 16
Chemicals: 35
Other Materials: 10
Electronics and Electrical Equipment: 8
Wood, Paper, Cardboard: 26
Organics: 7

Initial Reuse Ideas

Meeting participants were able to uncover “higher and better” reuse opportunities for most of the plastic, wood, paper, and cardboard materials, while reuse ideas for other material types like paint chips and even waste water also began to emerge. The project team fully supports all of these reuse activities and will be working with meeting participants to build case studies and to track progress as participants experiment with new uses for materials, and to encourage collaboration across industries in Detroit.

The Next Step: Data Collection

The next step for ROC Detroit is collecting more detailed data on priority materials and by-product streams – what you have and what you could use – to load into our online materials database. This database will allow participants to share their information at ease, and enable us to identify reuse opportunities and report on the values they produce through economic, environmental and social metrics.

We are planning a webinar to demonstrate the Materials Marketplace software on Nov. 10th at 2pm Central Time. Use the links, or view the live webcast below:

Google+ (ask questions using our live, real-time Q&A feature):


First Working Meeting

We will have our first working meeting for ROC Detroit in April 2015 to be held in conjunction with Shell’s EcoMarathon. Stay tuned for further information.

The Project Team

Questions about the event or the ROC initiative as a whole? Contact Emily McArdle at the US BCSD ( for more information. The contact information for the full project team is also shown here if you have any specific questions.

Tess Mateo
ROC Detroit Lead

John Bradburn
General Motors

Dana Cooper
Fairmount Santrol

Brian Watkins
Detroit Economic Growth Corporation

Trevor Pawl
Pure Michigan Business Connect

Andrew Mangan
U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development

Emily McArdle
U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development

Rui He
U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development


Trash to Treasure: A New Sharing Economy Launches in Detroit


Many progressive businesses are operating with the mindset that waste is merely a resource out of place. And they often play a lot of connect-the-dots to give a byproduct a second useful life. Many possibilities emerge when thinking creatively. For example, GM takes cardboard from its plants and recycles it into the headliner for the Buick Verano and Lacrosse to give them that library quietness for which the cars are known. But what if a company had more than just its own resources to channel this creativity? What if you could open up the possibilities with resources from other organizations willing to trade? (Read More)

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