Desert Landscape
Facing Global Challenges Head On.


Download our Sustainability Report (PDF, 18.3MB)

Global Challenges

At 3M, we look at sustainability in terms of shared global needs and the future of our business. As the population grows, particularly in emerging economies, 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.

Every day, 3M innovation aims to tackle some of the world’s most pressing areas of concern:
- Raw Materials
- Water
- Energy & Climate
- Health & Safety
- Education & Development

Our commitments and goals reflect our focus on helping to overcome these global challenges. Learn about our goals and results here.



  • Subtraction adds up.

    3M™ Void Fillers, 3M™ Scotch-Weld™ Paste Adhesives and Light-Weight Polysulfide Sealants reduce aircraft weight, maximizing efficiency, minimizing costs and enhancing sustainability.

    Subtraction adds up. Subtraction adds up.
  • Here’s a brighter idea.

    Use silver metallized and weatherable polymeric film with a solar-weighted total hemispherical reflectance of 94% to direct light. The result: brighter LED lamps in Africa.

    Here’s a brighter idea. Here’s a brighter idea.



  • Looking up at Trees in Forest

    Raw Materials

    The world’s population is growing larger, living longer — and consuming more. With this increased pressure on our finite natural resources and materials, we must move beyond low-cost, recyclable materials to renewable products. Companies that address this issue not only help the planet, but they also gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

    3M has worked on this challenge for decades and will continue to innovate into the future, developing renewable replacements for impacted resources, revolutionizing recyclable materials and becoming more sustainable.

  • Shoreline


    People consume it, farm with it and manufacture products with it. Reducing water consumption and improving water quality are important elements of environmental stewardship.

    Water is our world’s most valuable natural resource. Despite its prevalence, freshwater makes up only 2.5 percent of our total global water supply. A majority of freshwater is used for irrigation purposes, but nearly 30 percent of it is used for domestic consumption and industrial functions. Aging infrastructure and increased demand places a premium on clean, accessible water for 3M and our customers.

    Some of our customers are finding it difficult to source or deliver clean, accessible water. We can help them solve this problem by developing technology that increases water efficiencies and improves quality.

  • Turbine Power

    Energy & Climate

    Access to a dependable energy supply directly affects all businesses and communities. Energy usage and climate concerns require systematic change, and we’re here to drive that forward.

    From air emissions to fossil fuels, 3M takes a proactive and collaborative approach to addressing energy demand and climate change — in our operations and for our customers. The issues around effective use of energy resources and climate change are complex and interconnected. At 3M, we are focused on understanding those connections and seeking solutions that promote energy conservation, clean energy infrastructure, and reductions in atmospheric greenhouse gases. We already have many products and technologies that reduce the impact of energy use, promote energy efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gases. Our goal is to continue developing and implementing global concepts for the greatest long-term impact.

  • Doctors Office

    Health & Safety

    Global health and safety issues are prevalent in workplaces around the world. Food poisoning and water-borne illnesses lead to the deaths of 3 million people across the globe each year. At the same time, approximately one of every 20 hospitalized patients in low- and middle-income countries will contract an infection while under medical care.

    Governments, corporations and consumers are driving global demand for safety, protection, healthcare and food safety solutions. Creative innovation, technology, education and collaboration are all critical if we are to tackle the human health and workplace safety concerns.

    For decades, 3M has had entire business divisions focused on creating products and services for human health, protection, security and safety. At the same time, the company has embraced this commitment in its own operations.

  • Building Robotics

    Education & Development

    Global unemployment rates are expected to remain steady through 2017, particularly among youth. Today’s job market has fewer opportunities, with most available jobs too specialized for young people and recent graduates. As a technology company, 3M recognizes the importance of well-trained science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates — we need young minds to step into specialized roles and help our company solve future challenges.

Key Topics

  • There are many areas relating to these global challenges for which we have strengthened strategies, policies or processes. Learn how we’re working closely with suppliers to address “conflict minerals” through our supply chain policy. And read about our ongoing commitment to Sustainable Forestry.