How 3M makes sustainability in health care a priority every day
Apr 7, 2021

World Health Day is observed during the global celebration of Earth Month, and at 3M, improving the health of our planet and its people go hand in hand. Through continued innovation and the application of 3M science, we've made significant sustainability advancements in the products and solutions from our Health Care Business. From lessening our impact on the environment to making health care access more equitable, we are proud to help improve patient outcomes and drive progress across our three pillars of sustainability: Science for Circular, Science for Climate and Science for Community.

Science for Circular

Because packaging has the tendency to create unnecessary waste in product delivery, 3M has a long-standing commitment to developing efficient paper and packaging. In 2019, 3M reduced packaging weight by more than 1,300 metric tons. These efforts are reflected across all business groups, including the 3M Health Care Business – where the 3M™ Tegaderm™ Transparent Film team created a more sustainable packaging solution for 3M’s medical dressings. This innovative process nests the pouches used for each sterile dressing to reduce the amount of packaging materials needed by 30 percent.

Science for Climate

3M is known for its innovative adhesive offerings and that includes adhesives in health care. Medical tapes are commonly created with solvent-based polymers. When the solvent evaporates, the polymers harden into an adhesive, and the byproducts are burned – creating carbon dioxide that pollutes the atmosphere. Wanting to further 3M’s mission to improve health, the 3M Medical Solutions Division (MSD) took on the challenge of reducing emissions associated with the use of medical tape adhesives.

Since 1985, MSD has been working to develop products that use hot melt adhesives which don’t require solvents in their creation. With hot-melt adhesives, no solvent biproducts are created and solvent-based emissions are effectively eliminated. Today, most 3M medical tapes and dressings are manufactured without the use of solvents, using either hot melt or water-based adhesives instead.

Science for Community

According to researchers, only 20 percent of an individual’s health outcomes are driven by medical care alone . The other contributing factors are social determinants of health (SDoH) that include housing instability, unemployment, food insecurity and lack of transportation. All these factors can lead to poor health outcomes and higher costs – both for individuals and providers. And health care organizations continue to face challenges from COVID-19, which has amplified health care disparities.

In April 2021, 3M introduced a technology platform that allows health care providers and payers to prioritize care and funnel resources to high-risk individuals and patient populations. 3M™ Social Determinants of Health Analytics combines clinical, social and population health data to create a complete picture of patient health and includes social risk intelligence to promote program design and management in collaboration with community-based organizations. SDoH analytics can improve outcomes and achieve health equity across communities.

To learn more about how 3M’s Health Care Business supports sustainability within its products and services, click here .


Magnan, S. (October 9, 2017). Social Determinants of Health 101 for Health Care: Five Plus Five. National Academy of Medicine.

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