Panoramic view a large lake with a shore lined with trees and mountains in the backdrop at sunset.


Our approach

  • Manufacturing relies on water as an important component and even sometimes as a raw material. However, the current global use of this vital resource is straining ecosystems. Through collaboration and technology, we can bring real, lasting improvements to water availability and quality on a global scale.

    Our Water Stewardship Standard demonstrates our commitment to maintaining sustainable water resources to secure social equity, economic growth, and environmental protection. At 3M, we strive to use technology and expertise to promote a future of “water circularity” — where water stress is eliminated, resources are circulated, and nature is regenerated.

    As a signatory of the UN CEO Water Mandate and a leading member of the Water Resilience Coalition, 3M’s strategy aligns with the six core focus areas outlined by the Mandate and follows UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation). We will continue working with water leaders in communities where 3M operates to help improve water availability and quality, and aspiration toward a net positive water impact.

Progress toward goals

  • Icon of a water droplet.
    10.7% towards our goal to:

    Reduce global water usage by the following amounts: 10% by 2022, 20% by 2025, and 25% by 2030, indexed to sales1

  • Icon of a water droplet with two recycling arrows circling it.
    Progress will be available in 2023

    For 3M’s global manufacturing operations, enhance the quality of water returned to the environment from industrial processes by 2030.2,3 Our initial focus is on implementing state of-the-art water purification technology at the largest water use locations globally and having them fully operational by 2024

  • Icon of three people with a water droplet above them.
    17 identified manufacturing sites towards our goal to:

    Engage 100% of water-stressed/scarce communities where 3M manufactures on community-wide approaches to water management by 2025

  1. Expands our previous commitment, which aimed to reduce water use by 10% between 2015 and 2025. 2019 is the baseline measurement year.
  2. Water used by manufacturing or industrial processes including all water use not defined as domestic (sanitary, cafeteria, etc.).
  3. By improving the weighted average of priority constituents including select metals, BOD/COD, cyanide compounds, fluoride, total nitrogen, oil & grease, PFAS, solids (TDS/TSS), sulfate, and others.

Key actions in 2021

3M has taken action to decrease total water consumption by 49.4% between 2005 and 2021 indexed to corporate-wide net sales.

  • In two of our largest water-use manufacturing locations, we accelerated our 2021 ambitions:

    • We are ahead of plan for our 2022 water usage goal, with greater than 10% reduction. An example of our efforts helping us achieve our goal was in Decatur, Alabama, where we commenced a water recirculation project mid-year.
    • In Cordova, Illinois, we recently broke ground to add new filtration technology.

    In addition, advances in data analytics capabilities are expanding visibility, accuracy, and opportunity for innovation in our monitoring and measurement efforts.

    Focusing on a prioritized approach to water stressed basins, in August 2021, 3M joined the Water Resilience Coalition (WRC) leadership committee. Led by the UN CEO Water Mandate, an initiative of the UN Global Compact, Coalition members commit to having a positive impact in water stressed basins, to develop and implement resilient practices across their industry, and to provide leadership and advocacy in the field of water resilience.