3M has a large production of hazardous chemicals and data tells us that it is producing 43 highly hazardous chemicals, including seven persistent chemicals. This large production of very problematic chemicals is a big reason behind the company’s…
3M produces/uses 43 highly hazardous substances – 42 SIN List chemicals, 4 PICs, and 7 HHPs – 16 of which are included on the EU’s REACH Candidate List. 1 of these highly hazardous substances is either banned or severely restricted, with a set date when production needs to cease (1 Authorisation List substances, and no POPs). The company produces 7 persistent chemicals. Persistent chemicals are particularly problematic, since they do not break down, but instead accumulate in humans and the environment. Because of this, persistent chemicals should be of extra concern for investors; substances that are not considered a problem today could become huge liabilities in the future.
Please note that there is no available data for the 39 % of the company’s production that takes place outside of the EU and US. Lower EU/US production means higher uncertainty with regard to the total production of hazardous chemicals, which will have a negative impact on the company’s score in this category.
3M has a method in place to screen and assess the sustainability of its products and includes the intrinsic hazards of ingredients in the screening process. It does not, however, exclude substances with toxic properties from its new products. 3M actively markets safer alternatives both on its own website as well as on ChemSec Marketplace. The company has no true circular product, process or innovation. 3M uses biobased resources, but at the expense of occupying extra land or in competition with food production. It sources and treats recycled materials in a sustainable way, which is one of the key elements of a circular economy. 3M is not actively reducing the hazardous waste it generates.
The American company does not produce only sustainable products, and it does not have a timed phase-out strategy for hazardous substances that go beyond regulatory compliance. It shares chemical safety information on its website and is following a credible code of conduct standard. 3M did not respond to ChemSec’s attempts to communicate around its ChemScore ranking and it does not share any information about what kind of chemicals it produces in regions with low regulatory demands for transparency (e.g. Asia). 3M does not have a circular economy program in place, thus lacking objective and measurable circular economy targets.