3M Co. plans to spend $1 billion to fast-track various environment-related issues over the next 20 years, the company announced on Tuesday.
Some of the funds will be earmarked for the manufacturer’s long-term goal of achieving “carbon neutrality” by 2050. 3M also will set aside money to reduce water used at its facilities and purify water used in manufacturing.
In an interview with the Star Tribune, 3M CEO Mike Roman said the latest pledge is “certainly unprecedented” for the company. He noted that it marks a “big step up in our commitment.”
The company has been pursuing a number of environmental initiatives over the years. In 2015, 3M outlined its 2025 Sustainability Goals, which included pledges to increase its use of renewable energy and reduce water usage. In a Tuesday news release, company officials said the new spending goal “builds upon” 3M’s existing commitments.
“We are bringing our innovation to bear on the climate challenges we all face, so we can more rapidly bend the curve on carbon emissions and water use,” Roman said in the release. He added that the company’s Maplewood headquarters are now powered entirely by renewable energy sources.
As for 3M’s specific emissions goals? The company aims to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030, and 80 percent by 2040. In the meantime, 3M will continue hunting for ways to cut emissions at its plants. The company is in the middle of an ongoing review of its manufacturing operations. That now includes a push to ensure that all of the company’s plants are “best in class for minimizing emissions that can be produced during manufacturing operations,” 3M officials said.
It’s not immediately clear if the latest financial commitment could help the company reach carbon neutrality at an earlier date. But the company has already accomplished some goals in its 2025 plan ahead of schedule. “As the science and our learnings develop, we will use the latest available knowledge to further refine and accelerate our plans,” a spokeswoman said in an email. She noted that the announcement will help 3M become a “more effective and efficient business.”
3M also plans to install “state-of-the-art water purification technology” at its largest water-using facilities. The technology would be operational by 2024, according to the company.
Given the company’s performance throughout the pandemic, 3M evidently has the financial reserves to boost its sustainability spending. In 2020, 3M logged net income of $5.38 billion, up from $4.57 billion in the prior year.
Nearly every Fortune 500 company in Minnesota has outlined some kind of “sustainability”-related initiatives. Typically, corporations provide progress on those goals in yearly sustainability reports. 3M plans to track the progress of the latest pledge in upcoming sustainability reports.