Minimizing waste is an important strategy for reducing the release of toxins into the environment. The waste we produce is mostly unused raw materials. Since those raw materials are expensive, reducing waste is not only important environmentally, but also economically. So between 1990 and 2011, we reduced waste indexed to next sales by 68%—more than two-thirds of that between 2000 and 2005.
In 2005, we revised our definition of waste and set a new, aggressive goal to reduce waste indexed to net sales in 2010 by 20%, The new definition considered materials that we send to be recycled outside of 3M as waste. While we have always promoted recycling, the new definition was established to challenge ourselves to find ways to prevent the generation of waste in the first place. While difficult, the goal helped us to increase our focus on pollution prevention, design changes in products and process, and on internal recycling and reuse programs. At the end of 2010, we had reduced waste under the revised definition by 19%.
Going forward, we've returned to a more traditional definition of waste and set a goal to reduce our waste by an additional 10%, indexed to net sales, between 2010-2015. We’ve reduced waste by 9.2% reduction indexed to net sales from 2010.
Our Irvine, California, facility manufactures dental products. As part of its operations, the facility generates platinum catalyst waste. In 2006, the facility implemented a Pollution Prevention Pays (3P) project which turned this waste into a raw material by working with a recycler to recover and process the waste so that it can be reused. Through this new process, the facility will save more than $100,000 and prevent more than 1,000 tons of platinum waste annually.
Germany and Japan
Our Hilden, Germany, and Yamagata, Japan, facilities have eliminated all of their landfill waste. The Hilden and Yamagata facilities began by attempting to eliminate as much waste as possible through pollution prevention. Remaining waste was reused, recycled, converted to energy, or incinerated. Yamagata placed the greatest emphasis on finding ways to reuse waste internally or sell it to external markets. Waste was sent to an outside incinerator only when reuse, recycling, or converting it to energy was not possible. The Yamagata facility's efforts have led to an 83% reduction in total waste since its zero landfill activities began.
At the 3M Decatur, Alabama, plant, the edges of the industrial film produced in the plant cannot be used in the final product. Instead of simply throwing away the film's edges as scrap, 3M Decatur employees redesigned the facility's tape line to incorporate a system that effectively reuses the edge trim. This project prevented 164 tons of waste and resulted in a savings of $336,000 the first year.