3M UK plc, Sustainability – a way of life at 3M

Jaguar Land Rover Marketplace Sustainability Leadership Award, Big Tick 2013, Reaccredited 2014, 2015.

3M UK saves £2.4 million a year and cuts greenhouse emissions by 72% since 1990 by adopting sustainable business practices.

Business benefits

  • 46 Pollution Prevention Pays projects in 2012 have led to annual savings of £2.4 million
  • Switching from zinc oxide to calcium carbonate, a locally available material, in masking tape saves £30,000 in the first year

Societal and environmental benefits

  • The company has cut global absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 72% since 1990
  • Packaging design changes have seen the company save 130 tonnes a year in waste

3M applies its ingenuity, expertise and technology to solve problems innovatively, with a focus on solutions for the longer term. Sustainability is fundamental to our business philosophy – from product development and manufacturing to how customers use our products. Since the mid-1970s, 3M has pioneered sustainable business practices with outstanding results from our renowned Pollution Prevention Pays (3P) programme. However, both the company and its customers face ongoing challenges, such as energy reduction and efficient use of raw materials. We apply 3M innovation to overcome these challenges for our company, our customers and our communities.

- Paul Keel,
Managing Director, 3M UK

Pollution Prevention Pays at a glance

Manufacturing company 3M consumes raw materials to make products. Ensuring a sustainable supply of these materials is essential for the business to survive. That means efficiencies need to be scaled up, waste minimised and life-cycle analysis incorporated.

The company’s Pollution Prevention Pays (3Ps) programme reduces consumption of resources by preventing pollution at source. Innovating new products using reused waste, more local materials and less energy leaves the company less reliant on raw materials.

Product reformulation, process modification, equipment redesign and reuse of waste materials are central to the company’s success. That’s why 3M has adopted a number of practices to help boost sustainability including:

  • Introducing an innovative engineering fluid, Novec™, that uses hydrofluoroether chemistry to replace ozone-depleting solvents so that a unique data centre cooling system can be invented.

  • Developing an industrial hand-cleaning solution that does not use solvents or harsh chemicals – avoiding any impact on rural water systems.

  • Replacing zinc oxide with locally sourced calcium carbonate in the company’s masking tape manufacture.