3M — a sticky business on its way to eco-safe manufacturing


An eco designer’s biggest challenge is often finding the right material. This can be hard work, especially if you are designing a more complex object and those screws, adhesives, zips or switches that are supposed to hold the whole thing together just aren’t green enough and threaten to spoil the genius of your design.

Last week for example, someone from the o2 Group was looking for an environmental friendly adhesive. Remy Chevalier, one of our favourite tippsters, suggested having a look at 3M as ‘they were doing green management and design way before anyone else was, incorporating eco-safe manufacturing protocols into their product lines with little or no fanfare.’

3M is a technology company with brands such as Post-it, Scotch or Nexcare.
So I had a closer look at their web site which is now offering an extensive ‘sustainability’ page explaining their environmental protection, social responsibility and economic progress. I acknowledged their eco-efficiency performance towards sustainability which involves requirements for Life Cycle Analysis for all their products in order to improve them. For example, they constantly develop new technologies and products to lessen and prevent pollution, which resolved in a 26% improvement in energy efficiency and a 25% reduction in waste between 2000 and 2004.

Furthermore I understood that they invest a lot into the communities where they work and are all about knowledge sharing and enhancing biodiversity but then I must admit it’s a lot of numbers and figures which at first glance seem very impressive but in the end Post-it notes and tape are still as un-eco as ever.

Sure, we should give 3M credit for their 'cradle-to-cradle protocol in their manufacturing' as Remy put it and I guess 3M sets a great example of how a big company should operate BUT what about the end product? Cleaner production surely deserves praise but I wonder if there is anyone out there who is smart enough to make clear green tape or eco-friendly zips and all those other less glamorous things we use in masses but seem to ignore easily when it comes to sustainability. If you are, please contact us immediately! Via the o2 Group ::3M