Global population growth sets the stage for how we approach the sustainability of our business and our world. Starting with technology and working toward the improvement of every life on the planet allows us to think holistically about addressing global challenges.
Our greatest opportunity to overcome these challenges lies with innovation and collaboration and by encouraging individuals to pursue their passions and exercise their creativity. The role of companies is critical, but the power is in partnership. This connection and collaboration is how we operate at 3M. Since 1902 this approach has enabled us to solve the toughest problems facing our customers, and increasingly it’s providing the means to address some of the toughest problems facing humankind.
As the population grows, challenges like energy availability and security, raw material scarcity, human health and safety, education, and development must be addressed to ensure people across the globe can lead healthy, fulfilling lives. This is why we are focusing our sustainability strategy on overcoming the global challenges that serve as barriers to improving every life.
The world’s population is living longer. With this increased pressure on our finite natural resources, we must move toward more renewable products and reimagine waste as a nutrient. By addressing this issue, companies not only help the planet, but also gain competitive advantage in the marketplace. 3M has worked on raw material challenges for decades, becoming more sustainable and helping our customers do the same. From food safety products that reduce waste while fighting food-borne illness, to sourcing local, renewable or waste materials for cleaning products, we’re tirelessly committed to respecting our planet’s resources.
Water is the most essential natural resource for life and thriving ecosystems; therefore, our planet’s consumption must be nurtured and responsibly managed. We recognize that reducing water consumption in our operations and improving water quality are important elements of optimizing our environmental stewardship. Water must be reliably available to meet the needs of current and future consumers and the communities we serve, and water quality must comply with local regulations. 3M continues to actively understand, manage and work toward reducing our corporate water footprint while providing innovative solutions to our customers, including advanced water filtration systems and underground pipe coating processes.
Energy and climate to dependable energy directly affects all businesses and communities. Concerns regarding energy generation and emissions require systematic change, and we’re here to help drive that forward. 3M has a history of proactive leadership in addressing both the challenges and opportunities presented by the need for energy conservation, renewable energy generation, and CO2 emissions reductions. Our philosophy is that early action is paramount to being a leader in this space, and our programs and results prove our success. Our 40 year old Pollution Prevention Pays program has prevented more than 2 million tons of air, water and waste pollution, and our products are helping our customers do the same. From electronic devices to data centers, vehicle light-weighting to building efficiency, and solar films to power line transmission capacity, we look to transform the way the world generates and uses energy.
Building on our long-standing leadership in environmental stewardship, we are increasingly expanding our focus on social sustainability challenges. Global health and safety issues are prevalent, and governments, corporations and consumers are driving global demand for safe and healthy workplaces, healthcare and food safety solutions. Food poisoning and water-borne illnesses alone lead to the deaths of 3 million people across the globe annually, even as approximately one of every 20 hospitalized patients in low- and middle-income countries will contract an infection while receiving medical care. From respirators and filtration to food safety systems and medical devices, we apply science in collaborative ways to improve lives daily.
We’ve been setting global environmental goals since 1990, which have helped dramatically reduce our own environmental footprint and established us as a leader in environmental stewardship. Our 2025 Sustainability goals expand beyond our own operations by focusing more on supporting the Sustainability goals and needs of our customers and our communities. Set against the backdrop of the global challenges, they range from investing in sustainable materials and energy efficiency, to community-wide approaches to water management and reducing our customer’s GHGs through the use of our products. We’ve also set goals around building a diverse workforce and educating individuals on worker and patient safety in healthcare and industrial settings.
This is all part of our commitment to protect our planet, while growing our business. Moving forward, our emphasis on applying 3M science to improve lives will continue to grow, as will our emphasis on collaboration – with our customers, partners and communities.
Inge G. Thulin
Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, 3M
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