3M Supports the Environment Through Operational Improvements
Through a series of four Earth Month stories, we will explore how 3M is creating a positive impact on the environment through improvements in its operations, the individual efforts of 3M employees, innovative products and solutions, and increasingly ambitious sustainability goals.
As we observe Earth Month throughout April, it’s important to take stock of our changing natural environment. Rising temperatures and the breakdown of natural systems have widespread impacts, ranging from elevated pollution levels to increased frequency of extreme weather events. These challenges impact the health of our planet and its people, and they require collaborative solutions. As a global company with a diverse portfolio of products, 3M is well-positioned to help with these solutions and can drive impact through improvements in its operations.
Our most recent step in driving positive impact on our planet is 3M’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. As we work toward this goal, we aim to rapidly bend our curve of carbon emissions along the way. We’ve targeted a 50% reduction by 2030, an 80% reduction by 2040, and 100% carbon neutrality in our operations by 2050 (using 2019 as our baseline year). We have a strong history of reducing GHG emissions, and recently achieved Scope 1 and 2 absolute emissions levels that are nearly 75% below our 2002 emissions levels–demonstrating that it’s possible to affect change while growing our business.
3M is also committing to reduce water use at our manufacturing facilities by 25% over the next decade–targeting a 10% reduction by 2022 and 20% reduction by 2025. We expect to install restorative and regenerative water purification technology by the end of 2023 and be fully operational by 2024 at our largest water-using locations. This technology will return higher quality water to the environment after its use in manufacturing. Through these combined efforts, we estimate we will reduce our overall water usage by 2.5 billion gallons (9.5 billion liters) per year.
Another way we are improving our impact on the environment through our operations is by transitioning to clean energy. In February 2019, our CEO, Mike Roman, announced 3M would transition to 100% renewable electricity across its global footprint by 2050. He also announced that we would increase our interim target for energy sourced from renewables from 25% to 50% by 2025. As of the start of April 2021, more than 41% of 3M’s total electricity use is renewable. When combined, our renewable energy commitments will reduce an estimated 930,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions each year.
Our global headquarters in Saint Paul, Minnesota, was the first facility to flip the switch to sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources and multiple 3M locations have followed to help meet our goal. Most recently, at the start of 2021, 3M Canada’s head office in London, Ontario, became powered by 100% electricity sourced from renewables and all 3M locations in Poland secured Guaranteed Origin certificates to qualify their electric usage as renewable.
At locations that have not fully transitioned to renewable power, 3M is working to source alternative forms of energy. For example, 3M recently invested in multiple on-site solar array installations to help power manufacturing facilities in California and Singapore. In California, these arrays provide approximately 20% of the electrical power required by the plant, and in Singapore, the panels contribute approximately 8.5% of necessary power. A recent example of our investment in on-site clean energy sources is the installation of a solar panel system at a facility in Mexico, which now powers approximately 20% of local operations.
“Committing to a net-zero future and transitioning to 100% renewable electricity are two ways we work to positively impact our planet,” said Gayle Schueller, 3M Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer. “We have a strong history of applying 3M science and technologies to deliver efficiencies and solutions. By continuing to advance actions in our operations we can help create a more sustainable and resilient future for life on Earth.”