Plastic pellets for industrial manufacturing use held in cupped hands.


Our approach

  • We see the circular economy as an opportunity to inspire leadership, innovation, and disruptive change across all industries, meeting the needs of current and future consumptive demands.

    3M continually looks for ways to recover, reuse, and recycle byproducts and other surplus material, and we include renewable and recycled materials in our products when we can. Increasing usage of renewable and recycled raw materials through product design and operational considerations helps us support the circular economy.

    The materials and infrastructure that support a global transition away from petroleum-based plastics are undergoing rapid transformation. There’s palpable momentum for change. We have a clear line of sight on our path forward and have created a measurement system to track our progress toward our new goal.

    3M recognizes packaging as an opportunity to reduce, eliminate, or modify plastic to be more circular — but we don’t stop there. We also believe we can impact plastic usage by innovating product formulations to leverage more sustainable alternatives. To advance these efforts, we are empowering our people to drive priority projects aligned with our plastics goal.

Progress toward goals

  • Icon of a recyclable plastic water bottle.
    18.5 million pounds towards our goal to:

    Reduce dependence on virgin fossil-based plastic by 125 million pounds by 20251

  1. Established in 2021. 2020 is the baseline measurement year.

Key actions in 2021

  • We will innovate new solutions for products and packaging in our Consumer Business Group — using recycled content and bio-based plastics when appropriate, and decreasing our overall virgin, fossil-based plastic use.

    3M announced a new Sustainability Goal to reduce our dependence on virgin fossil-based plastic by 125 million pounds by 2025.

  • Recycled and bio-based materials

    We've incorporated recycled and bio-based materials and reduced plastic use in products and packaging such as Scotch® Tapes and Dispensers, Scotch-Brite® Sponges, Meguiar’s® Packaging, 3M Workspace Solutions, 3M Thinsulate Insulation, and more.

  • Plastics recycling

    3M re-joined the Association of Plastic Recyclers, which promotes the advancement and development of the plastics recycling industry.

  • Packaging

    We continue to address our plastics in packaging by removing and lightweighting where we can, making packaging easier to recycle, and increasing the use of recycled materials.

  • Recycling report

    3M partnered with Closed Loop Partners, the Center for the Circular Economy, and other industry and NGO partners to examine the financial viability, environmental impacts, and human health risks of diverse advanced recycling processes.

    The report, Transitioning to a Circular System for Plastics: Assessing Molecular Recycling Technologies in the United States and Canada is now a global resource for investors, the petrochemical industry, environmental NGOs, and policymakers to understand a nuanced and nascent sector. The report also supports data-backed decision-making that drives toward sustainable and circular outcomes.