WMU Pilot Plants director, researcher dies

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News
Photo of Joel Kendrick.

Joel Kendrick

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Joel Kendrick, the general manager of the Western Michigan University Pilot Plants and a leader in boosting recycling efforts in the fast food and packaging industries, died on Monday, Jan. 19. He was 56.

Joel Kendrick

Kendrick was named operations manager of what was then the newly completed Paper Coating Pilot Plant in 2003. Prior to being named to that post, he had an extensive background in the paper industry, having served 12 years with Allied Paper. He also had 14 years of experience at WMU, serving six years as a lab manager at the University's paper pilot plant.

In 2009, the University's Paper, Recycling and Coating Pilot Plants teamed up with Global Green and its Coalition for Resource Recovery to bring the recycling effort to the fast food and packaging industries, starting with Starbucks coffee cups.

Kendrick participated in forums and workshops, presenting the WMU Pilot Plants' recycling certification process to executives in the paper, recycling and fast food industries. Under his leadership, the pilot plants became a key player in defining the process for certifying fiber-based products for repulpability and recyclability and helping retailers, converters and paper mills attain recycling certification.


A gathering of family and friends will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan 23, at Langeland Family Funeral Homes, Memorial Chapel, 622 S. Burdick St. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, at the funeral home with Rev. John Hill officiating. Memorials may be directed to the West Michigan Cancer Center or the American Heart Association.