Not Quite Circular but Loopy


During a recent visit to the Oxnard Del Norte Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Oxnard, CA, I took a selfie and posted it to social media with the caption, “My office for the day.” I ended up getting 50 likes and a few comments.


MSW Management Editor, Arturo Santigo, on site at Oxnard Del Norte Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Oxnard, CA

One of the comments is from a cousin of mine (who is not really a cousin, but our families were so close while we were growing up, her parents are considered aunt and uncle, making her my cousin) who asked me to check out a project she’s spearheading in Detroit.

It’s called “ROC Detroit.” ROC stands for Reuse Opportunity Collaboratory. On its website, it describes itself as an “effort to bring together Detroit industries, institutions, small and medium sized businesses, and entrepreneurs to create closed-loop systems in which one organization’s waste becomes another’s raw materials.

The program uses an online secure database where materials that are needed, as well as materials that are available, are listed and trades are facilitated. ROC Detroit will help sift through the data and come up with possible matches for resources. Once a match is determined to be feasible, an exchange is made by the companies. The benefits from the collaboration are listed as lower operating costs, reduced carbon footprint, local economic development, corporate reputation, and networking with like-minded businesses.

This project launched in 2014. It’s been busy collecting data on waste resources such as construction and demolition, plastic and rubber, metal and minerals, chemicals, electronics, wood, paper and cardboard, and organics.

I’ve reached out to my cousin to find out what kind of success they’ve had in the last three years, but I haven’t heard back as of this writing. I’ll be sure to keep you in the “loop” when I do hear from her.

In the meantime, here’s one success story to come out of ROC Detroit. Veronika Scott is the founder and CEO of a nonprofit organization that makes coats that can convert into sleeping bags for the homeless. One of the biggest expenses in manufacturing the coats is the insulation. Enter General Motors. It turns out that GM has excess sound-absorbing material left over from the production of the Chevy Malibu and Buick Verano. The material made perfect insulation for Veronika Scott’s coats.

Check out the short video and then let me know what you think of ROC Detroit.    


  • Jeremy O'Brien.

    Nothing short of inspiring! I wonder what other opportunities are out there to turn our waste materials into resources and give jobs and hope to people at the same time.

  • Yes, truly inspiring. Given that by the end of the year China aims to drastically (if not totally) stop importing American waste and scrap for recycling, programs that facilitate the use of these materials should be encouraged.


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