3M joins Water Resilience Coalition

Decatur plant among featured initiatives.

Aerial view of the 3M plant on the Tennessee River in Decatur.

3M announced today that it is joining the Water Resilience Coalition, an industry-led initiative of the United Nations aiming “to preserve the world’s freshwater resources and achieve a net positive water impact.”

“3M is proactively applying our science and innovation to improve the water supply used in our operations and the communities we serve,” said Mike Roman, 3M CEO. “We are committed to sharing our expertise on global water solutions, and our participation in the WRC will expand and amplify our efforts.”

Last year, 3M identified 16 of its facilities in water-stressed area and began working to cut water use or transition to using treated wastewater.

For example, the company began working with the Juarez (Mexico) City Water Department in 2016 to receive treated wastewater for onsite services. In 2017, 80% of total water consumed in three out of five buildings was treated or recycled water and in 2020, the site transitioned the remaining two buildings. It expects to save 10 million liters (2.6 million gallons) of water.

3M also featured its work at the company’s plant in Decatur as part of its effort to improve water quality.

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“For example, 3M Decatur in Alabama has installed a non-contact cooling water system that connects the plant’s incoming water infrastructure to local utilities. This reduces the amount of water the plant uses from the Tennessee River by more than 95% and deepens the facility’s connection with the community where its people live and work.

Cooling towers designed to help 3M plant cut Tennessee River water use.

“The work in Decatur will advance 3M’s February 2021 commitment to reduce its water use 25% by 2030, with interim goals of 20% by 2025 and 10% by 2022—accelerating a prior goal to achieve a 10% reduction by 2025 (indexed to sales). To help identify solutions and potential barriers for water reduction, 3M employees can record and track observations within a global pollution prevention system that is accessible by engineers, developers, and managers. This broad visibility provides a deeper understanding of water use and facilitates collaboration on solutions from across the company.

The company also announced plans “to invest $1 billion over the next 20 years to achieve its environmental goals, including a commitment to install state-of-the-art water purification technology at its largest water-using facilities by the end of 2023 and be fully operational by the end of 2024. These funds build on 3M’s allocation of approximately $55 million for capital projects for environmental purposes in 2020, which include waste reduction and pollution control programs, such as water usage reduction and water quality improvement equipment, scrubbers, containment structures, solvent recovery units, and thermal oxidizers.”

Jason Morrison, president of the Pacific Institute and head of the CEO Water Mandate, said, “3M’s expertise in science and creative solutions finds a significant space of opportunity in the CEO Water Mandate. Additionally, by being a part of the leadership committee of the Water Resilience Coalition they also join a leading platform on water for businesses that are elevating their ambition and accelerating results through collective action on water.”

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