New 3M Goals for Carbon Neutrality, Reduced Water Use, and Improved Water Quality Draw Industry Attention



Last week, 3M announced its plans 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. Our recent 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."

3M is Going Carbon Neutral by 2050

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 has a long track record of delivering on its sustainability goals and thinking through, with great scientific rigour, how to do it,” said Chris Coulter, chief executive officer of GlobeScan. “This is what makes its 2050 net zero commitment so remarkable—very few diversified and complex companies have been able to identify so precisely the roadmap to net zero.”  

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."

As it advances decarbonization, 3M is working to minimize the emissions that can be produced during manufacturing by applying its scientific expertise and advanced technology. During ongoing reviews of its manufacturing facilities, 3M will continue to improve its infrastructure and drive new efficiencies that reduce overall emissions. Through the Sustainability Value Commitment, which requires every new product to impact the greater good, 3M is reinventing manufacturing processes to decrease emissions for its operations and customers.

"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 Reducing Water Use and Improving Water Quality

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 the recent 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 is Committed to Leadership in Sustainability and ESG

“Our new environmental goals are crucial next steps toward shaping a world with cleaner air, better water quality, and less waste—and they build upon progress we’ve already made in these areas,” said Gayle Schueller, 3M vice president and chief sustainability officer. “We have a long-standing commitment to sustainability and continue to drive progress through our Strategic Sustainability Framework, which focuses our efforts on Science for Circular, Science for Climate, Science for Community.”

3M's leadership in sustainability and environmental stewardship dates back decades and includes 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.

“I’ve studied and worked with 3M for years, and I’m always excited by the potential for their innovations to serve the world,” Andrew Winston, sustainability advisor and co-author, Net Positive. “Their under-the-hood technologies (sometimes literally) can accelerate the transition to cleaner transportation, buildings, and energy systems, helping build a thriving world.” 

Building on the company's global capabilities and diverse technologies, 3M products drive positive environmental impact around the world. Examples include:

  • Semiconductor and electronics: 3M products enable more efficient semiconductor manufacturing and improve the performance and lifespan of electronic devices as we move toward a paperless world.
  • Recycled content and plant-based materials: 3M is helping expand the supply chain and demand for recycled materials by making products with post-consumer recycled content and leading plant-based material innovation in iconic everyday products like Scotch™ tape, Post-it™ Notes, and Scotch-Brite™ sponges.
  • Automotive electrification: 3M materials for assembling and light-weighting, like glass bubbles, are powering the next generation of vehicles and battery technologies, helping shed pounds per vehicle and enabling better overall fuel economy and battery range.
  • Energy efficient buildings: 3M window film solutions help keep the heat out and the cool air in, making buildings more efficient and reducing the energy needed to heat and cool the places where people live and work.
  • Renewable energy: 3M films, tapes, and adhesive technologies help solar panels capture more light, increasing efficiency, and help protect wind turbine blades against weathering and harsh environments, ultimately enhancing reliability, extending life, and improving the performance.
  • Improving indoor air quality: Filtrete™ room air purifiers and heating and cooling solutions help capture airborne particles, including dust, lint, pet dander, and bacteria, reducing indoor air pollutants and making homes and workplaces safer.

12019 will be the baseline measure year for these new commitments.

Tweet me: .@3M announced plans to invest $1 billion over the next 20 years to accelerate new environmental goals: achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, reduce water use by 25%, and return higher quality water to the environment. Read more on the industry response:

KEYWORDS: 3M, 2025 Sustainability Goals, NYSE:MMM

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