Solid Waste

Minnesota Solid Waste Project

The Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance had an ambitious project to gather the varied stakeholders together to tackle the topic of reducing solid waste in the state of Minnesota to zero. Stakeholders from several industries attended bi-weekly meetings over a period of two months to gain a systems understanding of the issues, and to devise an action agenda to be submitted to the state legislature. Stakeholders included representatives from retail, waste hauler, landfill, beverage manufacturing, and recycling industries, as well as elected officials, sponsoring and other agencies, and NGOs and advocacy organizations. This group worked very hard, and though quite contentious in the meetings and in the hallways, moved through several stages of understanding the system, and each other. New relationships were formed based on the understanding that all parts of the system are behaving sensibly when understood from different perspectives, and in fact all have necessary functions to make the system function. Ultimately, and remarkably, the thirty stakeholders came to a loose consensus on an action strategy, and a Blue Ribbon Panel committee of individuals nominated from this group worked with the legislature to implement policy to support several of their recommendations.

An overview case study was published about this work.

Wile, K. and Smith, P. Minnesota Takes The Long View of Its Solid Waste System, The Systems Thinker, Pegasus Communications, November, 2001

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