3M Health Care. 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

  • Reinventing surgical drapes.

    What if we could lessen our dependence on fossil fuels by making more products from plant-based raw materials?  That’s exactly what 3M scientists did with the new 3M™ Steri-Drape™ Surgical Drape.

  • Reduce the risk of SSI.

    Studies prove clinical efficacy in reducing the risk of surgical site infection with skin & nasal antiseptic. 3M™ Skin and Nasal Antiseptic also solves the patient compliance challenge-it’s quick to apply, effective in 1 hr & persists for 12 hrs.1

  • Sustainable hand hygiene.

    “Wash your hands!” moms often say. Turns out they’re right, especially when it comes to reducing preventable hospital infections. Now, thanks to 3M science, you can sanitize your hands with products that also deliver a Sustainability benefit.

  • Reducing readmissions in Minnesota.

    3M software was used in a collaborative effort to reduce hospital readmissions in the state of Minnesota. This program resulted in patients in Minnesota spending 24,844 more night sleeping comfortably at home, instead of the hospital.

Oral Care Sustainability Stories

Food Safety Sustainability Stories

  • Endorsing EPA’s food recovery challenge.

    3M Food Safety has committed to providing resources to food processors and retail grocery facilities to help reduce the cost associated with food waste.

  • Less packaging. Less water. More results.

    The next-generation 3M Molecular Detection System: more streamlined than ever, for you and for the environment. 

  • Keeping our food supply safe!

    3M™ Petrifilm™ Plates are sample-ready media used to detect and count bacteria. Compared to traditional agar methods, 3M Petrifilm Plates use >75% less energy, use 80% less water, produce 75% less GHG, and create ≈66% less waste.

  • See with accuracy. 3M™ Clean-Trace™ Hygiene Monitoring System.

    The 3M™ Clean-Trace™ Hygiene Monitoring System provides the most reliable data on the market so you prevent wasting time, money, and production with unnecessary recleaning.

    See with accuracy. 3M™ Clean-Trace™ Hygiene Monitoring System.

Packaging & Manufacturing Sustainability Stories

  • 3M Northridge conserves water.

    Strategic management of resources has reduced water consumption at our Northridge, CA site by 36%.  The amount of water saved per day is enough to satisfy the daily water use of 430 people in California.

  • LED lighting helps improve plant efficiency.

    3M sites are committed to energy conservation.  One example comes from our Columbia, MO Energy Team, who recently completed an LED lighting project that nicely reduced the site’s environmental footprint.

  • Effective compression with less packaging.

    We removed the core in the comfort layer roll of 3M™ Coban™ 2 Layer Compression System and reduced the caliper of the carton which eliminated over 75,000 lbs of packaging per year.  This is the weight of 18 average passenger cars!

  • Efficient packaging for your favorite dressing.

    3M™ Tegaderm™ Dressings are now packed using an innovative nested design that reduces pouch material by 30% compared to rectangular packaging.  The carton is made of 100% recycled materials, of which at least 35% is post-consumer recycled content.

Social Sustainability Stories

  • An ounce of dental prevention worth a pound of cure.

    3M has pledged to donate dollars and Vanish™ 5% Sodium Fluoride White Varnish to America’s Tooth Fairy: National Children’s Oral Health Foundation®, to support preventive services and treatment for vulnerable young people.   

  • Improving every life.

    Whether to help in response to pandemics, earthquakes, tsunamis or ongoing medical relief efforts around the world, 3Mgives has donated more than $23 million of medical products via Project HOPE and MAP International in the past five years.

  • Never stop learning.

    3M offers educational content to health care professionals in formats to suit any learning style. Each year ~500,000 health care professionals are trained at 3MSM Health Care Academy live events and webinars, and 100,000 receive education online.

  • SHEA International Ambassador Program.

    3M supports the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) International Ambassador Program which selects candidates for career development in infection control.  3M and SHEA have helped train 80 experts from 41 countries!

Additional Resources

Follow Us