3M proposes $1 billion in investments toward reaching sustainability goals
3M (St. Paul, Minn.) announced it expects to invest approximately $1 billion over the next 20 years to accelerate new environmental goals: achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, reduce water use by 25% at its facilities, and return higher quality water to the environment after use in manufacturing operations.
“As we grow 3M, we will lead in environmental stewardship, social equity and justice, and corporate governance,” said 3M chairman and CEO Mike Roman. “We are taking action now to bend the curve on carbon emissions and water use, and improve water quality. Our investments will make us more effective and efficient and drive growth. Today’s announcements demonstrate again how 3M applies science to improve lives to help shape the world through cleaner air, better water quality, and less waste.”
The company’s long-term investments will help advance waste reduction and pollution control programs, reduce water usage, and acquire and apply best available technology. The investments further accelerate 3M’s continuous improvement of its manufacturing operations and ability to deliver on its environmental goals.
“It is great to see 3M come out with a set of clear and focused targets for climate and water,” said Peter Bakker, president and CEO of World Business Council for Sustainable Development. “The science-based approach to innovation in 3M’s portfolio will not only improve the company’s own footprint, but also positions them uniquely to benefit from the global transformation towards a net-zero world.”
By applying science and technological expertise, 3M expects to further reduce carbon emissions, aiming for a 50% reduction by 2030, an 80% reduction by 2040, and 100% carbon neutrality in its operations by 2050.1 3M will continue to work collaboratively with customers, governments, and global partners to reduce emissions beyond 3M’s operations through its continued invention and introduction of innovative products and solutions.
“3M’s new carbon neutrality commitment builds upon their pledge to renewable electricity as a member of RE100,” said Amy Davidsen, executive director, North America at The Climate Group. “3M has consistently surpassed interim targets along their renewable journey, and their science-based approach has allowed them to set even more ambitious sustainability goals. 3M continues to demonstrate what leadership truly looks like and should serve as an inspiration for more companies to take action.”
Starting this year, as part of its ongoing review of its manufacturing facilities, 3M will also work to ensure all operations become best in class for minimizing emissions that can be produced during manufacturing operations.
“We are bringing our innovation to bear on the climate challenges we all face, so we can more rapidly bend the curve on carbon emissions and water use,” said Roman. “Since 2000, while continuing to grow our company, we’ve significantly reduced our greenhouse gas emissions, our global headquarters is completely powered by renewable electricity, and we are advancing our goal of reducing waste globally by targeting it at the source—working to eliminate single-use plastics and converting more facilities to zero landfill status.”
3M is committed to reducing water use at its worldwide manufacturing facilities over the next decade. As it is in carbon emissions, 3M is taking immediate steps to drive reductions in water use in the coming months and over the longer-term: a 10% reduction in water use by 2022, a 20% reduction by 2025, and a 25% reduction by 2030.1
3M expects to install state-of-the-art water purification technology by the end of 2023 and be fully operational by 2024 at all of its largest water-using locations. This will enable the company to return even higher quality water to the environment after its use in manufacturing operations. The company will use its expertise and advanced technology to remove impurities from the water it uses.
“3M is a long-standing supporter and promoter of conservation efforts globally, and a leading innovator and provider of the technologies and solutions that allow both their customers and governments to achieve their sustainability goals,” said David Barron, founder, International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF). “ICCF is excited to see that 3M has moved to the forefront of global sustainability efforts with today’s announcement of both a detailed plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and a significant reduction in water utilization. This commitment by such an important leader in industry will surely encourage other corporate leaders to follow suit.”
Through its efforts, 3M expects to reduce its overall water usage by 2.5 billion gallons (about 9.5 billion liters) per year. The new commitments build upon the company’s existing 2025 goal of engaging with all of the water-stressed/scarce communities where it manufactures on community-wide approaches to water management.
“We are proactively reviewing our manufacturing facilities, going plant by plant to make investments and updates that will go beyond what is required, and at the same time further improve our operations,” said Roman. “We are applying 3M technologies at a broad scale, which allows us to do more to reduce, restore and reuse the water in our manufacturing processes. We are offering our experience and expertise to communities so we can help others achieve better water quality.”
3M’s ongoing efforts in sustainability and environmental stewardship date back decades and include the creation of the Pollution Prevention Pays program that has prevented over two million tons of pollution. In 2015, the company introduced its ambitious 2025 Sustainability Goals which focus on how 3M science drives change for a more sustainable future.