Sustainability in Health Care

3M Health Care. Sustainably Improving Lives.

Sustainability in Health Care

  • In the Health Care Business, 3M is working to make our manufacturing processes and internal operations more sustainable, reduce the amount of packaging we use, and create products that can help our customers solve their sustainability challenges.


  • You may be surprised to learn that hospitals face many sustainability challenges. For example, in the United States:

    • Hospitals generate 5.9 million tons of waste each year (source=Practice Greenhealth website)
    • The median hospital water consumption is 315 gallons of water per bed per day for those hospitals using the EPA Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool. This makes hospitals one of the most water intensive facilities.
    • Hospitals use many chemicals of concern
    • Hospitals also use a significant amount of energy

Oral Care

  • Dental and orthodontic practices also have opportunities to operate more sustainably. For example, digital technologies can generate many sustainability benefits:

    • Electronic records can reduce the amount of paper used
    • Digital imaging/x-rays can reduce the use of lead foils and fixing chemicals
    • Digital technologies can mitigate the need for impressions

    Proper disposal of mercury-containing silver fillings is a second sustainability opportunity for dentists. Finally, recycling, LED operatory lighting, use of green cleaning chemicals, and use of ENERGY STAR rated equipment can also contribute. Clearly, there are many ways to “be green” in oral care.

Medical Sustainability Stories

Oral Care Sustainability Stories

  • Digital Scanning Reduces Waste

    3M™ True Definition Scanner takes digital impressions of patient’s teeth which can help reduce waste by eliminating the need for elastomeric materials.

    Digital Scanning Reduces Waste
  • Clarity™ ADVANCED Ceramic Braces

    Through advanced design and materials, 3M developed ceramic orthodontic braces that no longer require metal. This change reduces metal used and metal waste during production. Clarity ADVANCED braces look great during treatment, increasing overall patient satisfaction.

    Clarity™ ADVANCED Ceramic Braces
  • APC™ Flash-Free Adhesive

    3M has combined its expertise in fiber technology and adhesive science to create advanced APC™ Flash-Free Adhesive for orthodontic bonding. Now there is no excess adhesive to remove when braces are bonded to teeth, reducing waste and saving time for everyone.

    APC™ Flash-Free Adhesive

Food Safety Sustainability Stories

Packaging & Manufacturing Sustainability Stories

Social Sustainability Stories

  • Inspiring the Next Generation of Innovators

    Our scientists from 3M Drug Delivery System’s Loughborough, UK site work with local area schools to engage young people in STEM through the Young Innovator’s Challenge.

    Inspiring the Next Generation of Innovators
  • 3M Official Sponsor of Smiles Change Lives®

    Smiles Change Lives® is a nationwide nonprofit that provides access to life-changing orthodontic treatment for children from low-income families. Since 1997, more than 6,000 children have been given new smiles, renewed hope and restored self-esteem.

    3M Official Sponsor of Smiles Change Lives®

Additional Resources