3M announces new sustainability goal

3M to reduce dependence on virgin fossil-based plastic by 125 million pounds by 2025.

3M has announced plans to reduce dependence on virgin fossil-based plastic by 125 million pounds by 2025.

To achieve this new goal, 3M will take steps to innovate the products and packaging in the company’s consumer business group.

3M will redesign products to reduce plastic use and increase its use of bio-based plastics and recycled content.

“The materials and infrastructure that support a global transition away from petroleum-based plastics are undergoing rapid transformation and there’s palpable momentum for change,” said Gayle Schueller, 3M senior vice president and chief sustainability officer.

“3M has a history of applying science to create sustainable alternatives to plastic and with this public goal, it will be easier to share these solutions and collaborate with others on advancing a global circular economy.”

3M is implementing its transition away from new plastic quickly and aims to achieve the 125-million-pound reduction—more than five times the weight of the Eiffel Tower—by the end of 2025.

“The pandemic has created significant new ways of doing business that can benefit both the economy and environment,” said Jeff Lavers, group president, 3M Consumer.

“We will change how we bring products to market, to benefit our customers and our consumers.”

Plastic pollution is a pressing global challenge, and the production of fossil-based plastics negatively impacts the global climate through the release of greenhouse gas emissions.

A recent study from the Center on International Environmental Law found that by 2050, emissions from the plastic industry will be equivalent to those of 615 coal plants—totaling more than 2.75 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).

3M continues to work with its researchers, engineers, and scientists, as well as suppliers, customers, nongovernmental organisations, and community leaders to improve the circularity of 3M products and materials.

3M requires every new product to have a Sustainability Value Commitment that drives impact for the greater good. Commitments include recyclability, using recycled or renewable materials, opportunities for reuse at the end of a product’s lifespan and more.

3M has been a part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to advance circular economy since 2019 and is collaborating with fellow members to drive greater global impact.

The company has supported The Recycling Partnership for more than four years, and in 2020, it provided the initial investment for the Recycling Inclusion Fund to advance recycling infrastructure and education, and research into the challenges that prevent a more equitable recycling system.

3M was an initial funder for Closed Loop Partners in 2014 and joined fellow founding investors to reinvest more than $54 million in 2020.

More recently, 3M has also co-funded projects like the U.S. and Canada Recycling Infrastructure and Plastic Waste Map—a first-of-its-kind public tool highlighting and tracking the diversity of plastic waste as well as opportunities to recapture valuable plastics and re-incorporate them into the manufacturing supply chain.

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