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When you’re looking for a better way of doing things, sustainability comes naturally


April, 2012

Innovation - the art and science of applying creativity to develop practical and novel solutions - has been the 3M Company’s hallmark for more than a century. It's more than a way of developing products. Innovation is part of our DNA.

We recognised early on that doing business in new and smarter ways would not only create a more viable company - it would also enable us to meet our social responsibilities and reduce impact to the environment which are two objectives integral to ethical business conduct. Sustainability is a natural extension of our 3M corporate values.

Today, we're building on more than 70 years of practices that support economic, social, and environmental sustainability. Our vision is simple: we want to help meet the needs of society today while respecting the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

We are guided by three strategic principles that make sustainability implicit in everything we do:

1. Economic Success: We build lasting customer relationships by developing differentiated, practical, and ingenious solutions to their sustainability challenges.

2. Environmental Stewardship: We provide practical solutions and make a measurable difference by minimising our effects on the environment and we increase that difference dramatically by making thousands of products that help consumers and businesses minimize their impact.

We offer diverse solutions that help our customers in a broad range of industries address their environmental and energy challenges

  • We think it’s better to prevent pollution than to try to clean it up later.
  • We introduced our Pollution Prevention Pays initiative—better known as 3P—in 1975. 3P prevents pollution at the source, in products and manufacturing. Back in 1975, that was considered innovative thinking. Globally, to date, 3P has resulted in the elimination of more than 3.5 billion pounds of pollution.
  • Philosophy: 3P is based on the belief that a preventative approach is more effective, technically sound, and economical than conventional pollution controls. Building conventional controls requires natural resources, human energy, and money; operating them requires even more. And conventional controls only constrain the problem temporarily; they do not eliminate it.
  • 3P is different, because it reduces consumption of resources by preventing pollution up front—through product reformulation, process modification, equipment redesign, and recycling and reuse of waste materials.
  • Every 3P solution has come from what you might call the “fourth P”—our people. The program relies on voluntary participation of our employees around the globe. To date, they’ve completed more than 9,300 projects.

3. Social Responsibility: We engage key stakeholders in dialogue and take action to improve our sustainability performance.

With these strategic principles as a framework, we're vigourously pursuing our key sustainability objectives. Among them:

  • Managing our environmental footprint
  • Developing solutions that address environmental and social challenges for our customers and society
  • Assuring our products are safe for their intended use through their entire lifecycle
  • Assuring the appropriate management of any 3M health and safety issues that may touch customers, neighbours, and the public
  • Maintaining a safe and healthy workplace
  • Satisfying our customers with superior quality and value
  • Providing a supportive, flexible work environment
  • Supporting local needs and education in communities where 3M employees live and work
  • Conducting our business with uncompromising honesty and integrity
  • Providing an attractive return for investors

Sustainability at 3M grew from a commitment to both innovation and ethical conduct. By continually increasing sustainability at the economic, social, and environmental levels, we believe we are building a strong, vital company today, and leaving a rich legacy on which future generations can build.