Thursday, April 6, 2023

Minnesota Waste Wise Programs

In this webinar, presented live on April 4th, 2023, we learned more about the food recovery and single-use plastic reduction programs available to businesses and organizations across Minnesota!


  • Introduction to the Minnesota Waste Wise program
    • A non-profit partner of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Waste Wise services are free for all Minnesota Chamber members and businesses across the state.
    • Services include site visit consultations, waste bill analysis, grants and funding assistance, employee training, and waste sorts.
    • Any business can work with Waste Wise! Members of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce may be eligible for more rebates.
  • Food Recovery Grant Program - Jasmine Jones - Sustainability Specialist, Waste Wise
    • Grants of up to $10,000 are available statewide to organizations within an area of concern for environmental justice, for programs recovering surplus edible food to be distributed to people in need.
    • Eligible expenses include storage, transportation, refrigeration, shelving, management software, funding staff, and more.
    • Grant deadline is: December 1, 2023
  • MNimize Program - Hannah Bohn - Senior Sustainability Specialist, Waste Wise
    • MNimize is a campaign to recognize and support businesses as they take action to achieve their sustainability goals. To start, the program helps restaurants and other food service businesses get rid of single-use plastic.
    • Single-use plastic is made to be thrown away after 1 use. It’s difficult to recycle, harmful to the environment and human health, and bad for business. 
    • To participate, Participant Prerequisites include a site visit and MNimize Pledge. Participants then advance over Achievement Tiers: from Bronze (implement at least one reduction action) to Platinum (all dine-in service ware is reusable, no single-use plastic to-go ware, and reusable to-go ware is available). 
    • Rebates of up to $500 are available to purchase reusable items, certified compostable items, bulk dispensers, etc. 
    • Currently, 26 there are 26 participants, reducing an estimated 79,067 single-use plastics items and saving $2,606. Examples include La Dona Cerveceria that switched from paper and plastic serving trays to reusable ones and Pillar Forum Cafe that installed a dishwasher and purchased reusable steel tumblers with a discount for people who reuse them.
  • Other Related Programs
    • Energy Smart provides free energy efficiency consultants for businesses using Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy. They offer utility bill analysis, low and no-cost recommendations, project support, grant and rebate assistance.
    • Recycling grant programs with Ramsey/Washington, Anoka, and Scott Counties.
  • GreenStep Best Practices for Businesses - Kristin Mroz, MN GreenStep Cities & Tribal Nations
    • See list below

View the workshop recording:

View the slides and additional materials: 

Additional resources:

Best Practice Actions related to this topic: 

  • 22.2 Address concerns over consumer products and packaging through encouragement/implementation of one or more of...
  • 22.5 Arrange for a residential and/or business/institutional source-separated organics collection/management program.
  • 25.2 Create or participate in a marketing/outreach program to connect businesses with assistance providers, including utilities, who provide personalized energy, waste or sustainability audits and assistance.
  • 27.3 Create, assist with and promote local food production/distribution within the city.

Register for upcoming GreenStep Cities and Tribal Nations workshops here. You do not need to be a GreenStep community to attend.

 Visit the GreenStep Cities and Tribal Nations program website at

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