Today, more than 25 businesses and organizations announce the launch of the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition, a business-led public-private partnership harnessing their collective expertise to advance the next frontier of corporate sustainability – the circular economy.
In a circular economy, all types of capital – financial, natural, manufactured, human and social – are valued and preserved, nothing is lost or wasted, and all resources are utilized to their highest potential. The end result is an economy that decouples economic growth from the consumption of finite natural resources.
The transition to a circular economy has been gaining momentum, particularly in Europe, where both the public and private sectors are mobilizing to lay groundwork to take advantage of the multitrillion-dollar business case: Recent research from organizations including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey, WRAP and Trucost outlines the trillions’ worth of economic (not to mention environmental) benefits that await if we design out waste from products and systems related to plastics, textiles, food … along with impressive projections for the potential for innovations such as remanufacturing and the Internet of Things. The European Commission is even offering financial incentives for companies that transition to circular economic products and models.
Now, the momentum is finally picking up Stateside: Minnesota’s business community is looking to advance a circular economy here in the U.S. by going above and beyond addressing environmental performance in their operations and supply chains, and to identify what progress can be made by working across sectors and across industries. Coalition members see the adoption of circular economic principles as a way to uncover business growth opportunities, drive innovation, and ensure a healthy and sustainable region. The coalition says in a statement that one of the defining characteristics of the group is “commitment to real action.”
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“Minnesota has a rich legacy of corporate philanthropy and collaboration,” said Jay Lund, Chairman and CEO of Andersen Corporation, a founding member of the Coalition. “Climate change, water risk, waste – these complex environmental issues affect our economy, our natural resources, and our communities. The Coalition provides an exciting opportunity for leading businesses and organizations across the region to identify new solutions to these systemic challenges.”
Coalition members will identify and scope projects that advance clean energy, convert organic waste into valuable resources, and protect or restore the natural water cycle. Advancing clean energy projects is an early priority for the group’s work together.
“Minnesota is uniquely gifted to lead the crafting of a more socio-environmentally responsible society. Our community hosts a well-diversified economy with strong leaders in industry, services, agriculture, some of the best of North American academia, and a well-educated population led by progressive thought-leaders,” said Dominique Conseil, president of Aveda and founding coalition member.
Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition members are collaborating to:
Define the circular economy: Coalition members will work together to build the vision and action steps required to achieve a fully realized circular economy.
**Develop projects and initiatives:**To determine projects that move Minnesota towards a circular economy, the Coalition will evaluate options through stakeholder, environmental, economic, social wellness, and life cycle lenses. To start, collaborative projects will advance clean energy, convert organic waste into valuable resources, and protect or restore the natural water cycle.
- Tell its story: The Coalition aims to build its brand as a place that is safe, healthy, economically vibrant, and sustainable, to advance its goals while retaining and attracting new talent to the region.
Environmental Initiative, a local nonprofit organization is convening and facilitating the coalition.
“Moving towards a future where our economic growth doesn’t deplete our natural resources or create harmful waste is a massive challenge. But, collaborating to achieve positive environmental outcomes at scale is what Environmental Initiative does,” said Mike Harley, Executive Director. “We’re excited to be convening such a passionate group of businesses and organizations to work towards this ambitious vision.”
Founding coalition members are: 3M, Andersen Corporation, Aveda, Best Buy, Cargill, Center for Energy and Environment, Dow Water, Ecolab, Ever-Green Energy, Fredrikson & Byron P.A., General Mills, Greater MSP, Great Plains Institute, Great River Energy, HealthPartners, Hormel Foods, Institute on the Environment – University of Minnesota, Medtronic, Metropolitan Airports Commission, Metropolitan Council, Pentair, Target, Tennant Company, Tunheim, Uponor, Wenck, and Xcel Energy.