Adopt Zero Waste Goal, Say Minnesota Business Leaders and Recyclers

Local government officials, business representatives, and recycling professionals urged a state panel examining the future of waste management to go beyond recycling to "Zero waste...or darn close."

Calling on state officials to give Minnesota''s long-term solid waste plans "a 21st Century tune-up," local government officials, business representatives, and recycling professionals urged a state panel examining the future of waste management to go beyond recycling to "Zero waste...or darn close."

"Even the most successful community recycling programs can only go so far protecting our environment and preserving natural resources," said Anne Morse, Winona County Environmental Services director, committee member and president of GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN). "Zero waste strategies transform outdated ''waste management'' policies to 21st Century ''resource management strategies.''"

Minnesota''s Solid Waste Advisory Committee held a day-long hearing this month to continue shaping the state''s long-solid waste management plans. The committee received testimony about zero waste strategies and real-world examples of the idea in practice.

"Zero waste is sound economic practice for companies and communities," said Dottie Shay of General Mills. "Zero waste may seem like an idealistic dream, but in fact the basic principles are practical planning tools for institutions wanting to improve the bottom line and the environment. For General Mills, Zero waste pays double dividends."

GRRN is a North American network of waste reduction professionals and activists and is a leading proponent of zero waste strategies. GRRN''s recently released Zero Waste Briefing Kit provides decision-makers with the information, tools, and case studies to make zero waste planning a reality. The briefing kit details how current public policy and corporate practice act as barriers to zero waste, as well as the ways businesses and communities are transforming a liability (waste) into a community asset (resources).

"GRRN is actively pursuing opportunities to promote zero waste strategies in states that, like Minnesota, are updating their long-term waste management plans," said Gary Liss, GRRN spokesperson and Zero Waste Project leader. "We are very encouraged by the advisory committee''s interest in zero waste. The committee members'' questions indicate a grasp of zero waste''s potential and a strong desire to pursue the idea further."

GRRN offers extensive resources on Zero Waste and producer responsibility. For more information, visit their Web site at www.grrn.org.

by Sandy Smith (ssmith@penton.com)

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