Could the corporate tide finally be turning against environmental pollutants known as “forever chemicals” as awareness of their effects on human health and prevalence rises?
By the end of 2025, the American company 3M will cease using and producing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
In a statement to the press, Mike Roman, chairman, and CEO of 3M said, “This is a time that demands the kind of creativity 3M is recognized for. “PFAS can be produced and used in a safe manner,
but we also see a chance to take the initiative in an external regulatory and corporate environment that is constantly changing in order to have the most impact on the people we serve. By maximizing our portfolio, innovating for our clients, and generating long-term value for our shareholders, we are preparing 3M for continuing sustainable growth.
Since the 1940s, PFAS have gained popularity in the industry and are used in a variety of items, including food packaging, stain- and water-resistant goods, and firefighting foam. However, scientists and civil society organizations are becoming more concerned about the impact of chemicals on the human body and their persistence in the environment.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PFAS have been discovered everywhere, from rainfall to umbilical cord blood, and have been linked to health effects like cancer, immunological suppression, and reproductive and developmental issues (EPA).
According to Toxic-Free Future in a press release shared with EcoWatch, these worries are prompting further legislation, particularly at the state level. In 2022, 33 PFAS-related laws were passed by 14 states, some of which included sanctions against polluters.
The federal government also advanced harsher regulations this year, recommending new drinking water safety thresholds of almost zero for two of the most popular PFAS and releasing a proposal to categorize the two chemicals as dangerous substances under the Superfund program. Companies would then be required to report any releases and might even be held liable for cleanup costs.
According to AP News, 3M is a Minnesota-based corporation that manufactures everything from Post-it notes to Scotch Brite cleaning products to personal protective equipment. It has already drawn criticism for PFAS pollution; in November, California sued it, DuPont, and 16 other firms for allegedly leaking PFAS into the environment while disseminating false information about their detrimental effects, according to AP News.
In its statement, 3M stated that a number of factors, including rapid regulatory trends aimed at decreasing or eliminating the presence of PFAS in the environment and shifting stakeholder expectations, had driven it to take action.
The Business Declared It Would:
- Stop manufacturing PFAS by the end of 2025.
- Make an effort to stop using PFAS in all of its products by the same date.
According to The Guardian, the firm presently earns about $1.3 billion a year from the sale of its manufactured PFAS. To phase out the chemicals, it anticipates spending between $1.3 billion and $2.3 billion, excluding taxes.
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Toxic-Free Futures Expressed Cautious Optimism About the Development in Its Press Release.
According to Laurie Valeriano, executive director of Toxic-Free Future, it is unconscionable that 3M, Chemours, Daikin, and other firms have been permitted to harm people and the environment for years with the dangerous chemicals PFAS. We welcome 3M’s announcement but urge them to be open and only produce the safest goods based on green chemistry. There shouldn’t be any more opportunities for 3M to contaminate drinking water, humans, or wildlife, and the company has to be held accountable.
According to the report, 32 retail brands with more than 150,000 locations and $654 billion in annual sales, including Starbucks and Burger King, have now committed to ceasing or cutting back on the usage of PFAS in the items they sell.
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According to Mike Schade, director of the Toxic-Free Futures initiative Mind the Store, “PFAS is an increasing financial, regulatory, and legal danger for firms worldwide, from chemical producers like 3M to big retailers.” Even though the news of today is good for public health, 3M has to be held responsible for years of pollution.
To stop the development of eternal chemicals, other polluters like Chemours, Solvay, and Daikin must immediately join them. Significant merchants like REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods must likewise put an end to the harmful contamination trail that follows from the production of PFAS and guarantee that alternatives are indeed safe. No one’s drinking water should be contaminated to make room for a raincoat.