During Earth Month, 3M is celebrating the many ways we give back to the environment and sharing how our global footprint expands this positive impact in a series of stories. These stories share the pathways to advancing sustainability at 3M—from efforts to improve the footprint of our operations , to our innovative portfolio of products and solutions and 3M’s increasingly ambitious sustainability goals. Today we’ll highlight how dedicated individual 3Mers are helping to build a better world, both through their careers and passion projects alike.
“3M’s vision of improving every life inspires 3Mers to innovate new ways to positively impact the world, and they play crucial roles in executing our sustainability strategy,” said Gayle Schueller, 3M senior vice president and chief sustainability officer. “Every day, I’m impressed by the many 3Mers who are striving to move our sustainability goals forward through their work and making sustainable improvements in their own lives and communities. I hope you enjoy the following examples as much as I do.”
Building sustainability advocacy in Canada
For 3M Canada, Richard Chartrand, director, USAC R&D operations & Canada sustainability, leads a “Sustainability 101” program that raises awareness of 3M’s progress and goals as they relate to sustainability. This program aims to equip 3Mers with the knowledge they need to be advocates for larger sustainability efforts.
“After forming a sustainability council in 2020, our members quickly identified a need to increase awareness of how we approach sustainability at 3M among employees and the program was created as a part of that effort,” said Richard. “Sustainability is a complex topic and we all felt it was helpful to establish a common understanding among employees.”
Thus far, around 1,000 customer-facing employees have participated in the program with the intention that they would be able to help customers achieve their own sustainability goals. There are many industries asking for more sustainable solutions and the training program has helped 3Mers work with customers on how to define their strategic direction, including how to increase the circularity of products by designing out waste.
By sharing their learnings with customers and colleagues, training participants are now helping to amplify knowledge of 3M’s sustainability efforts. The program is proof that educating employees on crucial initiatives at a broader scale positively benefits their growth as well as that of the company and its customers, helping extend our positive impact to the communities where our employees live and work.
Advancing clean energy use in Singapore
Steven Toh , assistant facility manager and country energy coordinator at 3M Tuas in Singapore, has a history of leading projects that help 3M advance on its sustainability goals. In 2018, Steven led the launch of a rooftop solar installation project at Tuas, allowing the facility to use more clean energy. By enabling an emissions reduction of 1,139 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, Tuas also helps reduce 3M’s overall carbon footprint.
In addition to helping 3M improve its impact on the environment, the rooftop solar installation project exemplifies how locations like Singapore, with limited land and intermittent sunlight, can increase solar energy adoption. At the time it was built, the project was one of the largest rooftop solar farms in the country and is made up of 6,605 solar panels.
On top of the solar project, Steven helped optimize systems that track plant performance in real time and introduced technology to monitor energy usage. Through this work and the work of his team, he is applying 3M science to create a more positive impact on our planet.
Powering conservation through art in Beligum
Based in Belgium, Detlef Tibax, EMEA sustainability LCA engineer, combined his passion for wildlife conservation with natural artistic talent to founded his side project: Art 4 Conservation. Detlef has honed his talent for drawing from a young age and as he developed his skills and focus in this space, he became fascinated with drawing animals. This fascination snowballed into a deeper connection with nature and eventually, a pursuit to protect it.
“I’m well aware of the global issues that our planet is facing today, and I’m encouraged by this to play my part to preserve the natural world,” said Detlef. “I decided I wanted to have a creative, supportive impact on wildlife when I was not in the field, and that's how the idea of creating a nonprofit organization was born.”
Founded with his brother, Art 4 Conservation is a personal platform for Detlef to sell his paintings of endangered species, with 100% of proceeds benefiting organizations that work towards conservation of the featured animals. His goal is for his artwork to have a vast impact–whether that be creating awareness, saving an animal, or moving people to action. Eventually, Art 4 Conservation hopes to connect a network of artists selling their works for charity on a common platform—all to benefit the conservation of wildlife.
Designing a space to heal in India
Sustainability is often used to describe efforts that improve the health of our planet, but it should also be applied to work that improves the lives of its people. It’s why Sandhya Ganapathy, manager, communications, security & corporate services for 3M India (and a member of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) committee), led a grant project that would positively impact children and their families during emotionally trying times. Sandhya helped renovate the children’s play area of the Sri Shankara Cancer Foundation Hospital, a not-for-profit organization, founded with the purpose of providing quality treatment to combat disease at affordable costs and irrespective of caste, creed, religion, or socio-economic status.
As someone with a talent for enhancing and designing spaces, Sandhya conceptualized a new design for the children’s play area, aiming to help sick children and their families feel a sense of normalcy while undergoing treatment at the center.
In addition to funding the play area renovation, 3M India’s grant to the hospital assisted with purchase of medical equipment for the hospital’s cancer research and diagnostic center. It also supported the renovation of dining and kitchen areas at the Lakshmi Children’s Center, which is a residential facility that houses families who come to the hospital for the treatment.
Through this project and grant contribution, Sandhya and 3M India are making daunting hospital stays less frightening for families.
Combatting climate change at home and the lab in the U.S.
For some 3Mers, professional and personal interests can intersect. Jon Hester, a research scientist on 3M’s biopharmaceutical purification team, uses his scientific background to inform his independent exploration of the impacts of climate change. With another 3Mer, Howard Creel, Jon publishes a personal blog called Rescue that Frog, which is dedicated to climate-related issues. The blog covers topics that range from the historical evolution of climate science to visualizing the impact of carbon dioxide pollution, aiming to motivate its readers to action.
Professionally, Jon shares his passion for climate action with other scientists through 3M’s Tech Forum, a self-directed, self-organized, principal organization for technical interaction. Tech Forum provides an environment where members can share their research and exchange ideas on a variety of scientific topics, whether related to than role at 3M or not. At one sample event, Jon presented to 3M Health Care employees on the connection between climate change and public health. The creativity and cooperation fostered by a community like Tech Forum is crucial to developing solutions to complex, global issues like climate change.
“3M is a large organization, but its technical community remains interconnected. I can call a scientist from another division and they’ll help me,” explained Jon. “Through the Tech Forum, you have a network of scientists who are interested in what you’re doing and can help you to make uncommon connections.”
More recently, Jon has been able to apply his knowledge to a project focused on improving the environmental impact of 3M’s operations. Working with Chris Nieber, Sven Frost, Pierre Bourgeois, and Carrie Pearson, the newly formed team is evaluating a new process technology with the potential to increase the water and energy efficiency of one of 3M’s manufacturing processes.
For Jon, and many other 3Mers, work doesn’t just stop when he leaves the lab. Fighting climate change and making a positive impact on our planet is a professional and personal calling, and he hopes to inspire others to join him
To learn more about how 3M and our employees are positively impacting our planet, visit 3M.com/sustainability.