Sustainability in Health Care

3M Health Care. Sustainably 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 using the EPA Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool used 315 gallons of water per bed per day. 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.

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Medical Sustainability Stories

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Oral Care Sustainability Stories

  • Digital Scanning Reduces Waste

    3M™ True Definition Scanner takes digital impressions of patient’s teeth which can help reduce waste by eliminating the need for elastomeric materials.

    Digital Scanning Reduces Waste
  • Clarity™ ADVANCED Ceramic Braces

    Through advanced design and materials, 3M developed ceramic orthodontic braces that no longer require metal. This change reduces metal used and metal waste during production. Clarity ADVANCED braces look great during treatment, increasing overall patient satisfaction.

    Clarity™ ADVANCED Ceramic Braces
  • APC™ Flash-Free Adhesive

    3M has combined its expertise in fiber technology and adhesive science to create advanced APC™ Flash-Free Adhesive for orthodontic bonding. Now there is no excess adhesive to remove when braces are bonded to teeth, reducing waste and saving time for everyone.

    APC™ Flash-Free Adhesive

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Food Safety Sustainability Stories

Packaging & Manufacturing Sustainability Stories

  • Better packaging for the best wrap!

    3M™ Coban™ Self-Adherent Wrap sticks to itself but not to other materials or skin. It can provide compression or support, or secure devices or dressings. To improve sustainability, Coban™ packaging was optimized to save ~450,000 lbs of material/yr.

    Better packaging for the best wrap!
  • Environmental Stewardship in Our Communities

    3M Drug Delivery Systems Division’s Northridge, CA facility reduced landfill waste by 33% in 2014 through improved waste segregation.

    Environmental Stewardship in Our Communities
  • 3M Oral Care Monrovia Plant achieves 67% Recycle Rate!

    Over two thirds of the waste generated in the Monrovia plant of 3M Oral Care is recycled including metals, plastics, cardboard and paper. The facility has achieved 5 consecutive years of waste reduction.

    3M Oral Care Monrovia Plant achieves 67% Recycle Rate!
  • “Lightweighting” our Packaging

    Our team worked to “lightweight” the 3M™ Ioban™ 2 Anti-microbial Incise Drape packaging by changing the primary box from corrugated material to paperboard Material. This eliminated ~220,000 lbs/year!

    “Lightweighting” our Packaging

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Social Sustainability Stories

  • Breast Cancer Awareness

    3M™ Littmann® Stethoscopes support the American Cancer Society by giving $5 for every 3M™ Littmann® Breast Cancer Awareness Special Edition Stethoscope sold. Since 2008, we have contributed ≈$350,000 to support the fight against breast cancer.

    Breast Cancer Awareness
  • Inspiring the Next Generation of Innovators

    Our scientists from 3M Drug Delivery System’s Loughborough, UK site work with local area schools to engage young people in STEM through the Young Innovator’s Challenge.

    Inspiring the Next Generation of Innovators
  • 3M Official Sponsor of Smiles Change Lives®

    Smiles Change Lives® is a nationwide nonprofit that provides access to life-changing orthodontic treatment for children from low-income families. Since 1997, more than 6,000 children have been given new smiles, renewed hope and restored self-esteem.

    3M Official Sponsor of Smiles Change Lives®
  • Healthy Smiles for the Rest of their Lives

    ADA's Give Kids A Smile® program enhances the oral health of needy children. Each year, approximately 350,000 children benefit from more than 1,500 events, all because of the efforts of 40,000+ annual volunteers. 3M Oral Care is a proud sponsor.

    Healthy Smiles for the Rest of their Lives

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