3M innovates to reduce plastic use, improve environmental footprint

On Earth Day, 3M commits to reduce its use of new plastic made from petroleum by 125 million pounds by 2025.

On Earth Day, 3M is committing to reduce its use of new plastic made from petroleum. By 2025, 3M aims to achieve a new sustainability goal: reduce dependence on virgin fossil-based plastic by 57 million kilograms. 

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). By reducing the use of this material, 3M can help address these challenges—ultimately aligning with its existing efforts to minimize waste and recent goal to achieve carbon neutrality in its operations by 2050.

"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."

To achieve this new goal, 3M is innovating the products and packaging in its Consumer Business Group. Advancements will include the use of recycled content and bio-based plastics and designs to decrease overall plastic use. Scotch-Brite® Greener Clean Non-Scratch Scrubbers, which are made with 75% post-consumer recycled plastic and encased in recyclable packaging made from 100% recycled content, offer a prime example of the improvements 3M is making. 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