At the 3M plant in Brookings, South Dakota nearly 1000 employees manufacture 3M medical dressings, tapes, surgical drapes, biological indicators and food safety products. Historically, the plant utilized a vacuum pump system that required continuous flow of water through the pumps to run production equipment and maintain equipment temperatures. This system used more than 20 million gallons of city water every year.
To conserve water, 3M engineers used innovative thinking to design a closed loop system that could leverage recirculated water. A small heat exchanger keeps the water from getting too warm, and clean chlorinated water is added to keep the water fresh. With this new system in place, 3M Brookings has decreased annual water consumption from 20 million gallons to just over 2 million gallons. The 18 MM gallons savings is enough water to supply about 164 homes all year long.1
This water conservation success results in modest financial benefits for the company while living 3M values and doing what’s right for the environment. A true win-win!