Minnesota's greenest big companies

The new issue of Newsweek features a list of the country's 100 greenest companies. Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Johnson & Johnson finish 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively. But which Minnesota companies made the list?

The highest ranking company of local interest is Wells Fargo. Although it's based on the west coast, it's got local roots and is the state's biggest banker. It also finishes a respectable 13th on Newsweek's list.

Has provided $5 billion in financing for green businesses since 2005, of which $1.65 billion has been for solar and wind projects and $3 billion for "green" buildings. However, not included by Ceres, a coalition of environmentalists and investors, on its 2008 list of top banks engaged in climate change activities.

The next company of interest is Travelers, which has significant operations in St. Paul. The insurance company comes in at 32nd.


Has a reasonably thorough environmental policy relative to its industry, but does not provide adequate disclosure information. Offers up to a 10% discount for hybrid auto insurance policies as well as for electric and hybrid boats. Also provides insurance to wind farms.

Not far behind at 40th is 3M, which is perhaps a bit surprising considering local heads about pollutants. But Newsweek says:

Manufactures a wide range of products for household, commercial, and industrial use, such as low-toxicity building materials and high-efficiency lighting products, many of which have environmental benefits. Has reduced global GHG emissions by 62% since 1990.

Coming in at 61st is Best Buy. The big box retailer earns high marks for its recycling efforts.

A leader among retailers in implementing programs to take back and recycle electronics. Has also agreed not to contract with recycling companies that illegally export electronics from the U.S., a practice that contributes to pollution overseas. New green building programs will help in reducing GHG emissions (8% per square foot) at all stores, a company goal.

The next company of note is Minneapolis-based Medtronic. The world's biggest medical technology innovater finishes 65th, with recycling again being cited as the reason.

In 2008, recycled 44% of its total solid waste, a 5% increase from the previous year. Also has made small efforts to eliminate controversial substances, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), from products. But beyond setting short-term goals on air emissions, the medical device manufacturer has announced few other plans.

Target hits the bullseye at 72nd. The red goliath wins on recycling and designing more energy efficient buildings.

'Big Box' retailer has programs in place for corporate-wide recycling, and reduction and elimination of polyvinyl chloride in its products, but weak program to reduce GHG emissions. Increasingly is designing stores to minimize energy consumption and natural resource use and has a strong record of owning and operating 'green' buildings.

The last local company to make the Top 100 is General Mills. Headquartered in Golden Valley, the food giant walks softly at 96th.

Similar to many of its competitors, uses an undisclosed amount of genetically-modified ingredients in its products, which has aroused controversy. However, has also supported initiatives to limit the use of genetically-modified products in foods and worked to reduce the use of pesticides, insecticides, and water at some of its operations. Between 1980 and 2008, the company reported reducing by 80% the amount of insecticides used on its crops.