3M announces it will stop making PFAS “forever chemicals” by 2025
December 20, 2022
Statement follows increasing numbers of corporate commitments by major retailers and growing restrictions in state policies nationwide to ban toxic PFAS
Health advocates cautiously applaud the move and demand 3M be held accountable to clean up contamination and commit to immediately making only the safest chemicals
SEATTLE, WA—Global conglomerate 3M today announced it will stop making PFAS “forever chemicals” by 2025, stating it will “exit per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) manufacturing and work to discontinue the use of PFAS across its product portfolio by the end of 2025.” The statement follows increasing numbers of corporate commitments by major retailers to ban toxic PFAS as well as growing restrictions in state-level policies to ban toxic PFAS. Health advocates cautiously applaud this move and demand that 3M be held accountable for cleaning up its pollution in communities and commit to only making the safest chemicals and products moving forward.
“It is outrageous that 3M, Chemours, Daikin, and other companies have been allowed to pollute people and the planet with the toxic “forever chemicals” PFAS for decades,” said Laurie Valeriano, executive director of Toxic-Free Future. “3M’s announcement is good news, but we call on the company to be transparent and only make the safest products based on green chemistry. 3M should not get any more chances to pollute drinking water, people, and wildlife and must be held accountable for its contamination.”
For years, state governments across the nation have been taking legislative and regulatory actions to phase out PFAS in products to prevent costly contamination in favor of safer alternatives. In 2022, 14 states adopted 33 policies to address the PFAS crisis including policies to hold polluters accountable. Washington state was the first state in the nation to ban the entire class of PFAS in any product and multiple other states and the federal government have taken action. At the same time, 16 State Attorney’s General have initiated litigation against PFAS polluters.
“States have been leading the way out of this crisis. It’s about time that companies like 3M abandon this toxic chemistry and are held accountable for the harm they have already caused,” said Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States. “We call on other manufacturers and users to also abandon PFAS chemistry, move toward safer solutions, and clean up their toxic legacy.”
Consumer demand for safer products has been steadily increasing and retailers have been adopting safer chemicals policies to eliminate PFAS in food packaging since 2018 in response to advocacy from Toxic-Free Future’s Mind the Store program. Currently, 32 unique retail chains with more than 150,000 stores and more than $654 billion in sales have committed to eliminating or reducing PFAS in food packaging, textiles, and/or other products. Recent examples include Starbucks, Burger King, and Wendy’s.
“PFAS is a growing financial, regulatory, and legal risk for companies worldwide, from chemical producers like 3M to major retailers,” said Mike Schade, director of Mind the Store, a program of Toxic-Free Future. “While today’s news is a win for public health, 3M must be held accountable for decades of pollution. Other PFAS polluters like Chemours, Solvay, and Daikin must join them and move quickly to eliminate the production of forever chemicals. Major retailers like REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods must also end the toxic trail of pollution that results from making PFAS and ensure substitutes are truly safe. No one’s drinking water should be polluted for a rain jacket.”
“Clearly the regulatory systems are broken and need to be dramatically changed to prevent another PFAS catastrophe. States like Washington are pioneering approaches, such as the comprehensive Safer Products law that shows how to advance the safest solutions. We can have products made with safer ingredients, and we see companies respond when laws require it,” added Valeriano.
Toxic-Free Future, Safer States, and its partners have been at the forefront of science, research, policy advocacy, and activism to ban PFAS through state and federal policies and through retailer commitments. Toxic-Free Future led efforts to win the first-in-the nation laws to ban all PFAS and a comprehensive law to address PFAS and other chemicals, called Safer Products for Washington. Toxic-Free Future’s 2022 study found PFAS in most products labeled stain- and water-resistant, with 72% testing positive for PFAS—including products from REI, Amazon, and others. REI members and advocates in more than 20 cities rallied and delivered petitions signed by more than 130,000 people to REI stores nationwide demanding the company ban PFAS in the products it sells. Since then, the number of people that have signed petitions to REI has grown to more than 150,000 REI customers and members. A 2021 peer-reviewed study led by scientists at Toxic-Free Future, the University of Washington, and Indiana University found PFAS in 100% of breast milk samples tested and that newer PFAS build up in people. Toxic-Free Future’s 2021 investigative report revealed that PFAS manufacturing facility Daikin America in Decatur, Alabama is a major source of both PFAS pollution and ozone-depleting chemicals that contribute to health problems and climate change.
BACKGROUND ON PFAS “FOREVER CHEMICALS”
Chemical companies sell PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) for application to products such as paper and textiles as stain-resistant, water-repellent, and grease-proofing treatments. PFAS have been linked to serious health problems such as cancer, immune system suppression, increased cholesterol levels, pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, reduced fertility, and increased risk of thyroid disease. PFAS are known as “forever” chemicals because they don’t break down in the environment.
Toxic-Free Future (TFF) is a national leader in environmental health research and advocacy. Through the power of science, education, and activism, Toxic-Free Future drives strong laws and corporate responsibility that protects the health of all people and the planet.
Safer States is an alliance of diverse environmental health organizations and coalitions from across the nation committed to building a healthier world. By harnessing place-based power, the alliance works to safeguard people and the planet from toxic chemicals and sparks innovative solutions for a more sustainable future.