1. 3M Ireland
  2. 3M Sustainability
  3. Global Challenges
3M Sustainability
Desert Landscape
Facing global challenges head on
Download our Sustainability Report (PDF, 20K)

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 employment need to be addressed to ensure people across the globe can lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

Everyday, 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 commitment and goals reflect our focus on helping overcome these global challenges. Learn about our goals and results here.




  • The magic of microspheres.

    Cubitron™ II abrasives stay sharper, last longer, and run cooler than conventional abrasives.

    The magic of microspheres. The magic of microspheres.
  • Here’s a brighter idea.

    Use silver metallised 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 a 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 in mind, we need to move beyond low-cost, recyclable materials to renewable products. Companies that address this issue are not only helping the planet, they're also gaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

    3M has spent decades working on this challenge, and will continue to innovate for the future by developing renewable replacements for impacted resources, revolutionising recyclable materials and becoming more sustainable.

    Read our success stories:
    It’s time to make electronic devices more recyclable.
    Cleaning supplies should make the whole world cleaner, not just the home.

  • Shoreline


    People consume it, farm with it and manufacture products with it, but is society responsible enough with it? Reducing water consumption and improving water quality are both vitally important elements of environmental stewardship.

    Water is the world’s most valuable natural resource, but despite its apparent abundance, fresh water makes up only 2.5 per cent of our total global water supply. A majority of fresh water is used for irrigation purposes, but nearly 30 per cent of it is used for domestic consumption and industrial functions. This, alongside ageing infrastructure and increased demand, places a premium on clean, accessible water for both 3M and our customers.

    Some 3M customers find it difficult to source or deliver clean, accessible water, and we help them solve this problem by developing technology that increases water efficiencies and improves quality. Read our success story.

  • Turbine Power

    Energy & Climate

    Access to a dependable energy supply is a fundamental need for every business and community. With ever-increasing energy usage and climate change concerns continuing to rise, systematic changes are required, and we’re here to drive that change.

    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 surrounding effective use of energy resources and climate change are complex and interconnected, and at 3M, we focus on understanding these connections, and continuously seek solutions that promote energy conservation, clean energy infrastructure, and reductions in atmospheric greenhouse gases. We have many products and technologies that reduce the impact of energy use, promote energy efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gases, with our goal being to continue the development and implementation of global concepts for the greatest long-term impact.

    Read our success stories:
    Smaller footprint, greater power.
    Unyielding commitment, an industry first.

  • Doctors Office

    Health & Safety

    Health and safety is a challenge in workplaces around the world. Food poisoning and water-borne illnesses lead to the deaths of three million people internationally each year. Moreover, approximately one in 20 hospitalised patients in low and middle-income countries will now contract an infection while under medical care.

    Governments, corporations and consumers drive global demand for better safety, protection, healthcare and food hygiene solutions, and 3M delivers, with creative innovation, technology, education and collaboration, which are all critical to improving human health and workplace safety.

    For decades, 3M has had entire business divisions dedicated towards creating products and services for human health, protection, security and safety, while embracing these ideals within our own operations. 

    Read our success stories:
    Making hospital patients more comfortable.
    Protecting our most important asset: 3Mers.

  • Building Robotics

    Education & Development

    Global unemployment rates are expected to remain steady until 2017, particularly among young people. As a technology company, 3M recognises the importance of well-trained science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates. We need young minds to step into specialised roles so they can become the problem-solvers of the future.

    Meanwhile, we’re empowering the workforce of today by:
    Energising the classroom with 3M innovation.
    Implementing a ‘15% culture’ for 65 years.

Key Topics

  • We have strengthened our strategies, policies and processes to deal with these global challenges. Learn how we’re working closely with suppliers to address ‘conflict minerals’ through our supply chain policy. And read about our on-going commitment to sustainability forestry.