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Sustainability Snapshot: The Metropolitan Airports Commission

July 26th, 2017

Every quarter, the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition holds meetings with more than 30 members to discuss updates, our three focus areas (renewable energy, clean water, and organics), and ultimately how we’re working toward a circular economy through sustainability.

Working toward a “circular economy” is still a wonky concept to many folks, but something that’s a little easier to wrap our heads around are on-the-ground sustainability efforts by our members. Together, we’re working to combine these efforts, and the minds behind them, to make transformative results possible. In other words, no one business alone can transform the way we see waste, water, or energy.

Each business and organization in the Coalition is simply building on their existing sustainability efforts by working together to create a cumulative impact.

In our last meeting, we got to know what one of our members, the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), is currently doing in their sustainability operations—and what they bring to the table for collective action. Walking through the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), we all got to know the ways the MAC is saving water, promoting local business, and meeting customer needs.

SUSTAINABILITY AT MSP

Restroom Retrofits

The MAC is in the process of redesigning all MSP restrooms with the environment and patrons in mind. The estimated water savings from the restrooms redesigned to date is approximately seven million gallons per year! Bathrooms also incorporate LED lighting, but use daylighting when possible.

The MAC has also taken measures to increase accessibility to those with disabilities, such as speaker and thermal cues when a restroom is closed for cleaning. They’ve also added four lactation rooms, one nursing room with one under construction, and service animal and pet relief rooms at MSP.

Local and Sustainable Businesses

The MAC features a variety of local and sustainable businesses within the airport, furthering their sustainability goals. Below are just a few of them.

  • Open Book: A collaboration between the Loft Literary Center, Milkweed Editions, and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, this local non-profit offers MSP travelers an ever-changing selection of the latest books, as well as an eclectic assortment of gifts and artwork.
  • LoLo: This locally-owned, locally-operated restaurant in MSP changes 40% of its menu with change in seasons, and serves locally-sourced food and drink.
  • Angel Food Bakery and Doughnut Bar: The MAC sets goals for bringing in Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; this woman-owned bakery is one such business, serving amazing items made from locally-sourced ingredients
  • Hammer Made: This specialty men’s shop offers distinctive, limited-run shirts and accessories by a local designer. The limited runs reduce fabric use, and any extra fabric is used as shirt trim or made into boxer shorts.
  • Stone Arch: With a concept developed by a local Minneapolis team, Stone Arch offers numerous kinds of local craft beer in partnership with the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild

Organics

All concessionaires at MSP– in Terminal 1-Lindbergh and Terminal 2-Humphrey– participate in the MAC’s MSP back-of-house organics composting program. The MAC was able to divert and compost 354 tons of organics in 2016 through partnership with MSP concessionaires. In addition, 91.4 tons of used cooking oil was recycled, and 1,520 tons of other material were recycled or diverted in 2016.

You can learn more about the MAC and MSP’s sustainability efforts by reading their 2016 sustainability report, available here »

Sam Hanson

POSTED BY:

Director, Sustainability Program

A Year and 30+ dedicated organizations later…

February 23rd, 2017

The Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition is just over a year old, but already we’ve come a long way. More than 30 businesses and organizations now form a business led partnership that harnesses each member’s expertise to advance the next frontier of corporate sustainability – the circular economy.

Together, the Coalition has designated three strategic priorities for regional transformation and are actively educating on what a circular economy can do for Minnesota and the region.

NEW MEMBERS

The Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition is a business-led effort that also includes key public and nonprofit entities within its membership. This cross-sector representation is essential to advancing the circular economy. In June of 2016, the Coalition publicly announced itself as a 27 member strong collaboration. Since then, six additional organizations have joined the effort, including:

 

 

With these six additions, the Coalition expands to just over 30 members. Each new member brings a different perspective and a wealth of experience. This knowledge continues to better position the Coalition, allowing the group to more effectively work on advancing the aspects of a more circular economic system. With each new member, we get closer to realizing our vision.

CIRCULAR ECONOMY EDUCATION

Our members have been quick to explain and project circular economy concepts. Jessica Hellman, Director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment (IonE) and Coalition member, recently penned an op-ed in the Pioneer Press demonstrating the value of transformative, far-reaching sustainability efforts.

Ackerberg, a recent addition to the Coalition, is the first commercial real estate company to join. Shortly after entering the group, they shared more information on the value they see in collaboration through a piece by Finance & Commerce.

And finally, the Coalition as a whole was featured in the Harvard Business Review as part of the 9 Sustainable Business Stories that Shaped 2016. Number nine focuses on the circular economy, with special mention of the Coalition.

OUR THREE PRIORITIES

Soon after the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition launched, Environmental Initiative convened members to select priority areas for their work. Three areas of focus quickly emerged from these conversations including: 1) advancing clean energy, 2) transforming organic waste into resources, and 3) greening grey infrastructure.

Members selected clean energy as the initial priority for leadership and collaboration. Coalition members recognize a circular economy can only exist if is powered by 100% clean, renewable energy. It’s a big commitment, but we aren’t taking it lightly. Over the past six months, members have developed a clean energy work plan, have secured initial funding to support that work, and have begun taking actions that support increased access to renewable energy resources.

While a lot of progress has been made already, much more is ahead. You’ll be hearing a lot more from us as we continue to make progress on our clean energy work plan while also digging deeper in our greening grey infrastructure and organics focus areas.

Sam Hanson

POSTED BY:

Director, Sustainability Program

Signs Simplify Recycling at Work

June 2nd, 2015

I am thrilled to share with you a project that Rethink Recycling has been working on for several months. The idea for this project came about at a Waste Reduction Collaborative meeting last year. My colleague, Trudy Richter, attended the meeting and heard from businesses their frustration with the inconsistent and varied trash and recycling signage they see across the Twin Cities. Businesses were often confused as to what goes in each bin at different locations. Businesses also wondered what existing signage they should use at their own business, especially if they had sites across the metro. Thus, the idea for consistent, regional waste signage was born.

I’m happy to announce that we can take the mystery out of what goes in the bin with the new sign resources at RethinkRecycling.com. This recycling signagenew, regional waste signage is simple, easy and free! The signs make it easy to see where each item goes. They’re color-coded and include common images making it easier to recognize what’s recyclable, organics (food for animals or commercial composting), or trash.

Signage is more important than ever, as businesses across the metro will need to comply with a new law starting January 1, 2016. Commercial building owners who contract for four cubic yards or more per week of solid waste (ie. trash) collection must recycle at least three types of materials, such as paper, glass, plastic, metal and organics. As businesses work to comply with the new law, signage resources will make it easier than ever for employees and customer to sort recyclables.

To get signs for use in your workplace or business, go to RethinkRecycling.com/signs. Select pre-designed, full-color signs or customize your own. Download. Print. Post. Done!

Once you’ve downloaded signage or customized your own, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Create sorting areas by placing recycling, organics and trash containers side by side in areas where waste is generated and there is heavy traffic
  • Post your signs at eye level to help ensure they will be seen
  • Place labels on the front, sides and lid of the containers
  • Hang posters on the wall above a container, on an easel at eye level behind the container, or from the ceiling over the container

For more tips on how to start or grow a business recycling program to maximize those neatly labeled bins, see the Business Recycling Guide at RethinkRecycling.com.

Amy Ulbricht

POSTED BY:

Commercial Waste Management Specialist, Anoka County; Business Communications Staff, RethinkRecycling.com

To Zero and Beyond: Business & Environment Session Preview

April 24th, 2014

Have YOU gone zero-waste yet?

Last year, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company became the first company to receive a platinum certification from the US Zero Waste Business Council. Closer to home, Mayor Betsy Hodges has announced plans for a zero-waste Minneapolis. You’ve probably been to a zero-waste event where all leftover materials are recycled, reused, or composted; maybe your company has donated used office furniture or supplies rather than tossing them; or you’ve thought twice about purchasing the trendy new single-use coffee pods or individual water bottles. The movement toward reducing what we toss is definitely growing, and more and more businesses, organizations, communities, and individuals are taking on this ambitious zero-waste goal. (more…)

Georgia Rubenstein

POSTED BY:

Senior Manager, Sustainability Program
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