Innovating Boldly for our Enterprise, Customers, and Communities
Mar 21, 2022

For 120 years, 3M has driven forward with a purpose: to unlock the power of people, ideas, and science to reimagine what's possible. When we deliver on that purpose, we improve lives by solving the world’s greatest challenges.

The innovation we deliver at 3M comes from a common place, but is in no way commonplace: together, we can take our best ideas and combine them into something better. The scientific curiosity, deliberation, and grit that is part of our history still drives us today as 3M protects healthcare workers and first responders during a global pandemic to combatting climate change.

These qualities are foundational to our work to proactively manage per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These materials have unique properties like durability and heat resistance needed to make innovative technologies like semiconductors used in smartphones, cars, and medical devices. Put simply: PFAS help make modern life possible.

As our knowledge of these substances has advanced, so has our approach to managing them. We’ll continue to do that as we pursue our Corporate PFAS Initiatives: 1) Advancing Our Technology, 2) Evolving the Science, and 3) Investing in Our Communities.

1. Advancing Our Technology: 3M will ambitiously pursue our enterprise-wide goal of making a net positive impact to the environment through technological investment and engineering innovation. One way 3M will do so is reducing our environmental footprint, including PFAS discharges from our manufacturing operations.

Reducing Water Usage

3M can reduce PFAS discharges from our facilities by reducing our overall water use. We are taking immediate steps to reduce water usage at our facilities by 10% by 2022, 20% by 2025, and 25% by 2030. The majority of 3M’s water usage takes place at five sites in geographies where water is readily available and is primarily used for non-contact cooling applications and utilities. Regardless, we are taking action to reduce the amount of water we use in our operations.

For example, 3M’s Decatur, Alabama site has installed a non-contact cooling water system that connects the plant’s incoming water infrastructure to local utilities. This change has reduced amount of water the plant uses from the Tennessee River by more than 95%. 

Best Available Control Technology 3M plans to reduce PFAS discharges at our manufacturing facilities by using advanced water treatment technology and thermal oxidizers to remove PFAS, organic materials, and other materials. We’re leading the way among manufacturers globally by developing new ways to engineer and combine water treatment and purification technologies that reduce discharges. By proactively investing in these state-of-the-art systems, we are on pace to reduce 3M’s PFAS discharges by more than 95% globally by 2025, and a goal of more than 99% by 2030.

We plan to invest in and implement these technologies at all of our largest water-using locations by 2024. To achieve that goal, engineers, scientists and construction workers are working today at sites like Cordova, Illinois, to engineer and install an advanced wastewater management system that will supplement existing systems onsite.

2. Evolving the Science: 3M continues to contribute to the body of scientific knowledge on PFAS, helping people better understand, manage, and reduce dependence on these materials. We’ll continue to progress PFAS science by bringing together our people, our resources and our knowledge, and sharing what we learn.

Contributing to Global Knowledge of PFAS

We’ve strengthened our ability to create, manage and address these materials in collaboration with scientists worldwide over decades. We are working across multiple disciplines to better understand innovative PFAS treatment techniques, health science, remediation, testing, and more. As a leader in these fields, 3M will use this expertise to dispel misunderstanding and provide answers through scientific discovery.

Innovating Across Our Company

We continuously invest in research and development to find new and better ways to serve our customers, including those seeking PFAS-free solutions. Meeting those needs where possible can benefit our customers and position our enterprise for the future.

We’ve already innovated in this space by transitioning certain Scotchgard™ products to PFAS-free formulations, and are working ambitiously to do even more across our corporate product portfolio. These shifts will continue as our company grows toward our future as a purpose-driven global technology leader.

3. Investing in our Communities: 3M will work collaboratively to address PFAS with stakeholders worldwide, and uphold our voluntary commitment to appropriate PFAS remediation at manufacturing locations where we produced or disposed of these materials.

Addressing Legacy Activities

As scientific knowledge of PFAS has advanced, so has 3M’s approach to managing and disposing of them. We are addressing these materials in the environment at 3M manufacturing sites worldwide and will continue to do so. We collaborate with local stakeholders to make a positive impact and engage our communities in the process.

We’ve already made significant progress in this work at locations globally and are accelerating our progress. At facilities like Cottage Grove, Minnesota, 3M has already implemented PFAS treatment systems combined with capping and containment solutions that address historical PFAS. 3M is also working with regulators and local utilities to help assess PFAS at and around its manufacturing sites, and where appropriate, develop and execute remediation activities.

Sharing Knowledge with Our Neighbors

We are also communicating proactively about our management of PFAS materials – both broadly and with the communities where our people live and work. We’re expanding the ways we communicate– whether that’s inviting our neighbors into our operations or sharing milestones as we take steps toward our environmental goals.

Sharing our progress, listening to our communities, and engaging others as we plan the future of our operations are cornerstones of our forward-looking approach to managing PFAS.

At 3M, we work tirelessly on better solutions to our customers’ greatest needs while reducing our footprint on the environment we share. That approach drives 3M’s leadership in managing PFAS in our operations and portfolio of products, engagement with our communities, and addressing prior decisions. And it will continue to guide our company as we achieve our company’s purpose, fulfil our promise, and act with principle.

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