We introduced our Pollution Prevention Pays initiative—better known as 3P—in 1975. 3P prevents pollution at the source, in products and manufacturing. Back in 1975, that was considered innovative thinking. To date, 3P has resulted in the elimination of more than 3.8 billion pounds of pollution and saved us nearly $1.7 billion.
3P is based on the belief that a preventative approach is more effective, technically sound, and economical than conventional pollution controls. Building conventional controls requires natural resources, human energy, and money; operating them requires even more. And conventional controls only constrain the problem temporarily; they do not eliminate it.
3P is different, because it reduces consumption of resources by preventing pollution up front—through product reformulation, process modification, equipment redesign, and recycling and reuse of waste materials.
Every 3P solution has come from what you might call the “fourth P”—our people. The program relies on voluntary participation of our employees around the globe. To date, they’ve completed more than 10,000 projects.
A 3P project team from 3M’s Valley, Nebraska, facility reduced the waste inherent to the product design and process from Red Dot Resting (RDR) Electrodes, adhesive electrodes used in electrocardiogram or EKG applications, by redesigning the electrode. The project prevented nearly 11 tons of waste and saved nearly $1 million in its first year of implementation.
Preventing solvent emissions at the source
A 3P team from 3M Brazil’s Itapetininga facility replaced the solvent-based paper treatment process the plant used to manufacture packaging, medical, and masking tapes with a new, water-based process. As a result, the facility reduced solvent emissions by more than 45 tons per year. By preventing solvent emissions at the source, the plant also eliminated the need for pollution control equipment, reducing the plant’s energy use and eliminating more than 125 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually. The project is expected to save the Itapetininga facility more than $850,000 in its first year of implementation.
Improving environmental footprint
Our Cottage Grove, Minnesota, facility developed a collapsible, reusable steel crate that reduces waste and saves money. Prior to the development of this 3P project, automotive products destined for Germany were shipped in a multi-piece wooden crate that was discarded after a single use. The new crates collapse to one-third of their height for easy return to the U.S. This project eliminated 315 tons of solid waste and produced savings of $101,800 in the first year alone.