3M to Reduce Plastic Use as Company Doubles Down on Carbon Emissions Targets

By Thomas Price Thursday, April 22, 2021

Within the corporate world, almost no causes have become a larger priority than creating environmental sustainability in business operations. This is certainly the case for science and consumer product company 3M. The company recently increased its commitment to environmental sustainability with a new pledge to reduce overall plastic consumption. 3M’s new goal will be in addition to its previous pledge, which was much larger in scope where the company stated it would see all business operations reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Additionally, the company will be introducing more environmentally friendly consumer items into its product line.

3M manufacturing facility.

3M and Plastic Reduction

The main goal of the consumer and science company is to reduce its overall use of new plastic made from petroleum. As 3M shifts its business away from these types of materials, it will be committing to an overall reduction of its consumption by 125 million pounds. The company will achieve this goal through three major methods, which include an increased use of recycled plastic and bio-based plastics and a decrease in the use of plastic altogether.

Part of this effort will be accomplished by requiring that all new products created and sold by the company will now have to pass a Sustainability Value Commitment. This new requirement ensures that all 3M products from here on out will be recyclable, contribute to water or energy-saving goals, are responsibly sourced, or have a strong reusability value.

An example of a new product created by the company that follows the new Sustainability Value Commitment would be the Scotch-Brite Greener Clean Non-Scratch Scrubbers. This product is made with 75% post-consumer recycled plastic, fulfilling the new plastic reduction and business shift made by 3M. The packaging that the product comes in is also made of 100% recycled materials. The company plans to reach its new plastic reduction goal by 2025.

Complete Climate and Sustainability Pledge From 3M

While the new 125 million pound plastic reduction pledge is a major step for the business, 3M has already made much loftier climate and emissions goals, with this new development only serving as a small portion of their plans. In fact, the company has committed to ensuring that all business operations will be 100% carbon neutral by 2050. 3M has several benchmarks along the way, with a 50% reduction deadline of 2030 and an 80% reduction deadline of 2040.

Another major part of the company’s plan to attain environmental sustainability comes from a 20% total reduction in water usage throughout business operations to be reached by 2030. The company will also be installing water purification technology at its largest water usage locations to return higher-quality water to nature and the public after it has been used for production and operations.

When commenting on the newest plastic reduction commitment, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer, Gayle Schueller, said, “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. 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.”

About the Author


Headshot of Thomas Price

Tom Price is a writer focusing on entertainment and sports features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.

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