Experiences

Take your pick of what we have to offer!

Field Trips ● Presentations ● Facility Tours ● Eco-Kits ● Monday Open Hours: Self-Guided Tours ● Expos & Tabling Requests

Field Trips & Facility Tours


If you would like a guided tour that reaches science or learning curriculum outcomes or standards, is customized to your organization’s sustainability goals, or is for groups of more than 10-12, this is the option for you! All of our Field Trips and Facility Tours are guided by knowledgeable staff and available for FREE. Please review the facility tour choices below to see age requirements, topics covered, facility addresses, etc. and submit a tour request via the booking button at the top of the page.

Address: 977 Wealthy SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Ages: All ages

Tour Duration: Approximately 1 hour (Available M-F 8:00am-5:00pm, when the facility is running)

Bus Grant: Application available in September.

TOPICS DISCUSSED:

  • The Basics of Recycling
  • Natural Resources and Recycling
  • Recycling and Machines
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • The History of Trash
  • Closing the Recycling Loop
  • Managing Waste & Sustainable Materials Management

Take a walk through a sorting facility designed to accept residential recyclable materials from all over West Michigan. Recyclables are sorted according to material type, then prepared for shipping to the next processor by pressing the recyclables into bales.

Tours are approximately one hour in length and include a classroom discussion about recycling as well as a facility overview on the observation deck overlooking the functioning equipment. The facility offers a safe, clean environment to learn about recycling. Tour times are available when the facility is running, between 8am and 5pm Monday through Friday. Closed-toe shoes are required for this tour.

Address: 950 Market SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Ages: 5th grade and older 

Tour Duration: Approximately 1 hour (Available M-F 8:00am-5:00pm)

Bus Grant: Application available in September.

TOPICS DISCUSSED:

  • Renewable Energy
  • Natural Resources

The Kent County Waste-To-Energy Facility accepts municipal solid waste from the 6 core cities in Kent County (Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Grandville, Walker and Wyoming). The facility can process up to 625 tons of municipal solid waste per day. The solid waste is converted into steam through carefully monitored incineration in specially designed furnace/boilers. The steam goes through a turbine/generator to generate electricity. A small portion of the electricity is used in-house and the rest is sold to an electricity supplier to be used in homes and businesses in Kent County.
The solid waste is reduced to ash, which is landfilled at South Kent Landfill after ferrous metal is removed by magnets and recycled. About 4,500 tons of ferrous is recycled every year. As ash, the municipal solid waste is reduced 90% by volume and 75% by weight.

ADDRESS: 10300 South Kent Drive SW, Byron Center, MI 49315
AGES: 3rd grade and older

TOUR DURATION: Approximately 45 min.-1 hour (Available M-F 8:00am-5:00pm)

BUS GRANT: Application available in September. A bus is required for this tour.

TOPICS DISCUSSED:

  • Natural Resources
  • Personal Decision-making
  • Landfill Construction Basics
  • Renewable Energy

In 2015, 1.1 billion pounds of Kent County trash passed over the scales destined for a landfill or waste to energy conversion, the equivalent of filling the University of Michigan’s Big House stadium twice over. West Michigan is on pace to generate enough trash every year to fill the Big House 4 times over. What’s worse, a recent municipal solid waste study determined nearly 75% of what we threw away in 2015 could have been recycled or composted. Come learn about what we can do differently to manage discards instead of perpetuating the take-make-throw mentality.

Tours are up to one hour in length and provide an in-bus talking tour of the entire landfill area, including a trip up to the top to see the big machines in action (weather permitting) and all groups will weigh in at the scale house. A short discussion on our methane gas recovery system and the monofill where ash from Kent County’s Waste to Energy facility is buried is included. NOTE: A bus is required for this tour. Roads at South Kent Landfill are mostly unpaved. Contact your busing service prior to scheduling your tour as some bus companies will not drive on unpaved roads. 

Monday Open Hours: Self-Guided Tours


This event is perfect for:
  • Individuals that are curious as to how Kent County’s recycling program works and want to know what can be recycled
  • Families and parents with young children looking for a casual experience
  • Child care providers or baby sitters looking for fun activities to engage in
  • Other small groups (around 12 or less) looking to explore the world of recycling such as homeschool groups
Learn the in’s and out’s of recycling, watch our workers and machines sort right in front of you, and have fun playing games and creating upcycled crafts as we reimagine waste together.
 
♻️ All ages welcome
♻️ Parents or another adult must accompany children at all times
♻️ This event is FREE for everyone
♻️ Closed-toed shoes are required; safety glass are also required and provided to guests. Hearing protection isn’t required but available upon request.
 
This is an open-house style event, so feel free to come out for a couple minutes or stay for a few hours. Self-guided tours on a walkway next to the recycling sort line are available along with museum-style exhibits that explain the recycling process. A Resource Recovery Specialist will be there to answer any reduce, reuse, recycle, or compost questions you may have!
 

Presentations


Let us come to you! Whether you are a school, place of worship, non-profit, business, or other community group, you can request a Resource Recovery Specialist visit and present on a topic of your choice for your group. Don’t see a presentation topic that lines up with what you’re looking for? Make a custom presentation request through our booking platform! (see button at top of page)

AGES: All

PRESENATION DURATION: Approximately 1 hour

PRESENTATION SUMMARY:

Food packaging produces a lot of waste. Conduct a waste audit and learn how to pack a waste-free lunch.

AGES: all ages

PRESENATION DURATION: Approximately 1 hour

PRESENTATION SUMMARY:

This presentation will emphasize that much of what we throw in the trash is not necessarily trash-it can be reused, recycled, or composted and we can easily reduce the amount that does go in the trash. We will also discuss how reducing, reusing and recycling can save natural resources. Get an overview of how all waste is handled with a sorting activity.

AGES: 4th grade and older

PRESENTATION DURATION: Approximately 45 min.-1 hour 

PRESENTATION SUMMARY:

When you go shopping do you choose paper or plastic? Through a life cycle analysis of various products, you will discover what impacts each material has on the environment. Explore all facets of this debate through an interactive presentation and discussion.

AGES: Kindergarten – 6th grade

PRESENTATION DURATION: Approximately 45 min.-1 hour 

PRESENTATION SUMMARY:

Upcycling is the new recycling! This presentation allows students to take old trash and upcycle it into something new and useful again. Examples:

  • CD spinner
  • Pop tab jewelry
  • Tin can planters
  • Toilet paper tube shakers

AGES: High school or older

PRESENTATION DURATION: Approximately 45 min.-1 hour 

PRESENTATION SUMMARY:

There are lots of dangerous and hazardous materials hidden in your home. Learn what these are and how to dispose of them safely.

  • SafeChem – chemicals, batteries, oil, light bulbs, paint, and more!
  • SafeMeds – pharmacuetical and liquid medications, viatmins, veterninary medications, etc.
  • SafeSharps – medial sharps like empty epi-pens, lancets, syringes, diabetic needles, and more! 

AGES: All ages

PRESENTATION DURATION: Approximately 45 min.-1 hour 

PRESENTATION SUMMARY:

Learn what composting is, how to do it, and how to set up your own. With advance notice, if you have a small group and provide your own materials, we will walk you through the steps and provide you with worms as you build your own bin.

Eco-Kits


The following Eco-Kits are free. Kits are generally loaned out for 1-2 week periods. Other arrangements may be possible, depending on demand.

Instructions and some materials are included to guide you as you set up composting in your classroom.

AGES: All ages

After creating instruments out of recyclable materials, have your own concert and do some recycling karaoke!

AGES: All ages

Crayons take many years to decompose in a landfill. Rather than throwing away crayon stubs, melt them down to make new crayons in fun shapes! We’ll supply crock-pots and molds, you supply the crayon stubs. If you have an oven, crockpots may not be necessary. Additional adult helpers may be required.

AGES: 2nd grade and older

By recycling paper we can reduce the number of trees used to produce new paper. We supply the blenders and screens for making paper, you supply the paper scraps and water! This is a great activity to try outside on picnic tables (electricity required). Try making special occasion cards or make your own paper for the next writing assignment in class!

AGES: 2nd grade or older

Empty steel cans are great to teach “reuse” to your students! We’ll supply the hammers and nails, you supply the cans so your students can make their own “lanterns.” Create beautiful nighttime decorations out of old steel cans. Makes a great gift for parents!

AGES: 4th grade or older

Did you have a great experience at one of our facilities or with staff while on a tour or presentation?
Be sure to let us know!

How Do I Dispose of:

Upcoming Events