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Minneapolis recognized nationally for Green Business Cost Sharing Program

August 23rd, 2016

A big congratulations are in order for the City of Minneapolis!

Earlier this month, the National Association of County and City Health Officials’ (NACCHO) awarded the Model Practice Award to the City of Minneapolis. The national award honors the city’s Green Business Cost Sharing Program. The Green Business Cost Sharing Program was one of 23 local health department programs across the nation to receive NACCHO’s prestigious Model Practice Award.

The program offers funds to small businesses to make equipment conversions and adopt other practices that reduce emissions, which impact air quality. Emissions from these smaller, more dispersed sources aren’t regulated like power plants or other large facilities. Because of this, smaller area sources like auto body shops or printing facilities are a growing concern for our region.

The Green Business Cost Sharing Program is unique in that it treats businesses as a potential partner to address pollution. According to city officials, since 2013, the program has reduced pollution from entering Minneapolis air by nearly 12 tons.

Along with the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Minnesota Technical Assistance Program, Environmental Initiative is a proud partner in the Green Business Cost Share Program through Clean Air Minnesota, a statewide public-private partnership to improve air quality.

For more information, visit www.minneapolismn.gov/greenbusiness.



Bill Droessler


Senior Director of Strategic Project Planning

What Does it Mean to “Advance a Circular Economy?”

August 15th, 2016

I stumbled across this quote the other day from Albert Einstein, “If you can’t explain it SIMPLY, you don’t understand it well enough.” This resonated so much with me, I put it on a post-it and stuck it on my office wall. So, what does my office decorating endeavors have to do with a circular economy?

The idea of a circular economy is one of those sort of gnarly, complicated concepts. Especially when you to try to apply it in a real world scenario. But, let’s break it down. To put it simply, a circular economy is an economy that works like nature does. Minnesota Public Radio’s Elizabeth Dunbar captured the idea nicely in a recent article:

“Imagine yourself in a native prairie. Birds and insects feed on plants. When they die, they decompose and nourish the soil. The prairie lifecycle forms a circle, where waste from one species is used by another, year after year.”

In the case of a prairie, forest, or other ecosystem, everything is a resource and there is no waste. Our economy is the opposite. We extract natural resources, use those resources to make stuff, we use the stuff we make, and then we throw it away. And, our current “take, make, dispose” model is reaching its physical limitations – as natural resources become scarce and more expensive to extract. This video from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation provides a four-minute crash course.

Earlier this summer, more than twenty-five companies and organizations announced the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition. The purpose of the partnership is to re-imagine business as usual through the acceleration and advancement of a thriving circular economy. It’s a big vision, a huge task.

But, what does that mean and what will it take? How can a business (or a group of businesses) really help advance our global, linear economic system to a circular one? Coalition members are working together to help figure it out. In the meantime, we’ll spare you all of the theory (and plethora of diagrams about what a circular economy is and how it could work). Instead, here are a couple of inspiring examples of circular projects in action:


In a truly unlikely pairing, Ford Motor Company will collaborate with Jose Cuervo to use discarded agave plant fibers leftover from tequila production in place of plastic to build things like fuse boxes and cup holders in cars. Cheers to that. Read the full story>>


Did you know that the footwear and tire industries are two of the biggest users of virgin rubber? In another unique pairing, Timberland and Omni United (a tire manufacturer) worked together to develop tires for cars and trucks that can be recycled into soles for boots and shoes. Treads that go on and on? Cool.

Later this month, the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition will be identifying specific clean energy projects to pursue. What do you think this group of companies and organizations could do together? Share your circular economy inspired ideas in the comments below.

Emily Franklin


Director of Communications

Meet Rachel Dupree, Communications Associate

August 11th, 2016

Hi, everyone!

My name is Rachel Dupree and I’m joining the Environmental Initiative team as a Communications Associate. I’m super excited to be part of the work that’s happening here!

RachelI’m a recent graduate of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, but I was born and raised in the greater Twin Cities area.  At Drake, I earned degrees in Public Relations and International Relations with a concentration in Global Public Health. I know that sounds like a weird combination—it is. If I could’ve majored in social justice, I would have, but here we are.

My environmental career started with a study abroad trip, actually. I spent a month in Ecuador my junior year, and while it was life changing in a lot of ways, it was also eye opening. After hiking for five days in the Amazon, myself and 15 other students toured the less awe-inspiring parts of the forest: the deforestation efforts and the indigenous farms impacted.  Meeting with community members from deep in the jungle and hearing their life experiences was sobering to say the least.

Those images lead me to the environmental sector. As an undergraduate, I worked for one of Iowa’s largest land and water conservation groups, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF). My main function was to spread awareness and convey the importance of conserving Iowa’s natural prairies, community trails, and threatened wildlife. Additionally, I was part of the communications team at the World Food Prize Foundation (WFP) in Des Moines, an organization most noted for awarding the “Nobel Peace Prize for agriculture” to those who tackle global food scarcity.

Now, I’m happily back in my home state and ready to continue my work in the environmental sector with a stellar organization. I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me!


Rachel Dupree


Communications Associate

Meet Waste Management: August Member of the Month

August 2nd, 2016


Waste Management has been a proud member and sponsor of Environmental Initiative since 2009. In the past, Waste Management was the Series Sponsor of the Business & Environment Series, which helped Environmental Initiative grow the program into what it is today.  Waste Management has also been a sponsor of the Environmental Initiative Awards. We are so happy for their continued membership support.

Waste Management: Embracing the Circular Economy

The concept of recycling discarded materials back into the manufacturing process is a no-brainer.  Instead of mining new resources, this “Circular Economy” mindset urges us to use and reuse materials time and again, recycling them and reusing them, in a closed loop of innovations. Avoiding the mining and extraction of new materials reduces demands on natural resources and reduces the carbon and other emissions that result from the manufacturing process. The concept works particularly well for metals, which are almost indefinitely reusable. For products like paper and metal, resource reuse is also generally cheaper than use of virgin materials.bale of crushed cans

But there’s more to the circular economy. The value lies not just in completing the circle, but in what you gain along the way. A functioning circular economy helps to continually reduce emissions and other environmental impacts. Waste, including residual waste, is reduced as is the use of non-renewable energies in traditional manufacture.

It’s important to remember that the concept of a circular economy remains, after all, an “economy”.  There are market forces to be reckoned with, including unpredictable externalities and shifting public demand. And, when we consider all of our daily activities, by far the most important is to avoid producing waste in the first place. Through waste reduction, we produce fewer waste related impacts to manage and we save money.  Our Waste Management Sustainability Services, Public Sector Services and Manufacturing and Industrial teams focus on how we can all better protect the environment by working with customers to reduce the waste they generate. For these customers, we become the “Zero-Waste Management” company.

Waste Management of Minnesota

Waste Management is Minnesota’s largest recycling and waste services provider in Minnesota, recycling nearly 250,000 tons of material per year at the Twin Cities Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Minneapolis. The Twin Cities MRF is the top Waste Management performing recycling facility of over 100 Waste Management facilities.

Waste Management also provides premium waste collection services and disposal facilities that meet all state and federal requirements for environmental protection.

With the largest network of recycling facilities, transfer stations and landfills in the nation, Waste Management’s entire business can adapt to meet the needs of every distinct customer group.

For more on Waste Management’s sustainability efforts visit http://www.wm.com/sustainability.

Thank you, Waste Management for your continued support of Environmental Initiative and we look forward to our future partnerships.

Each month, we feature information about one of our members on the Initiative blog and on our website. Contact Sacha Seymour-Anderson anytime at 612-334-3388 ext. 8108 to learn more about this membership benefit.

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Sacha Seymour-Anderson


Development Director

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