‘While PFAS can be safely made and used, we also see the opportunity to lead in a rapidly evolving external regulatory and business landscape to make the greatest impact for those we serve.’
3M has said that it will cease production of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) across its production portfolio by the end of 2025. In a statement the company said that ‘3M’s decision is based on careful consideration and a thorough evaluation of the evolving external landscape, including multiple factors such as accelerating regulatory trends focused on reducing or eliminating the presence of PFAS.
Clarifying its position the company added that it will stop manufacturing all fluoropolymers, fluorinated fluids and PFAS-based additive products. PFAS – sometimes referred to as ‘forever chemicals’ – have increasingly been subject to tightening regulations and in some regions manufacturing bans, as numerous health and environmental impacts have become better understood.
3M added that it will ‘facilitate an orderly transition for customers and that it intends to fulfil current contractual obligations during the transition period’.
Mike Roman, 3M chairman and Chief Executive Officer said: ‘While PFAS can be safely made and used, we also see an opportunity to lead in a rapidly evolving external regulatory and business landscape to make the greatest impact for those we serve.’ 3M said that the current annual net sales of manufactured PFAS are in the region of $1.3 billion.
The announcement by 3M, which came at the end of December, followed news that a coalition of investors from around the world with $8 trillion under management, signed a letter sent to the CEOs of the world’s 54 largest chemical companies, as set out by the environmental organisation ChemSec. The organisation has created a sustainability ranking that ranks companies according to their own strategies for dealing with harmful chemicals. The ranking is said to be a tool primarily for investors.
The letter, organised by Norway-based Storebrand Asset Management and UK-based Aviva Investors, which was signed by 47 asset managers warns that growing awareness of the dangers posed by PFAS, which has been found to be persistent in the environment, has led to an increasing number of lawsuits against companies and sparked action to tighten legislation around the world.
The signatories said: ‘We encourage you to lead, not be led, by phasing out and substituting these chemicals. In addition to the financial risks associated with litigation, producers of persistent chemicals face the risks of increased costs associated with reformulating products and modifying processes, which have significant implications for company performance.’
Senior Business and Investor Advisor at ChemSec, Sonja Haider said: ‘The global chemical industry is turning a blind eye to the unfolding chemical pollution crisis. Most companies are taking little or no action to phase out hazardous chemicals despite the risks to public health, the environment and shareholder value.’
Commitments to dealing with PFAS in the environment have been gaining momentum. During the final quarter of 2021, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set out a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Roadmap for tackling per and polyfluoroalkyl contamination.’