View 3M’s position on recent news relating to fluorochemistry regulation and stewardship.
3M continues to make progress on its promise to reduce PFAS from its operations. In addition to process changes that have already reduced discharges, the company has collaborated with Suez, a global leader in engineering technological solutions for water management, to install and activate a wastewater treatment system that is expected to reduce the facility’s PFAS discharges by up to 90% before April 2022..
This filtration system was commissioned and started-up late December 2021, and 3M will be optimizing the system to remove PFAS. This system adds to existing technology to remove PFAS from water at the site, and combines technologies like granular activated carbon, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis and ion exchange to capture PFAS in filtration materials so they can be disposed of.
This innovative system is expected to reach a limit of 0,1 microgram per liter for certain PFAS such as PFOS, PFOA and FBSA These anticipated reductions are 10 times lower than the wastewater discharge limits of 1 microgram per liter for PFOS and PFOA in 3M Zwijndrecht’s October 2021 permit modification. This new system will also allow 3M Zwijndrecht to meet, and outperform, all of the other limits set in the recent permit adjustment action.
“The water treatment system shows what we can do using technology and collaboration to address complex challenges. We know there is more to do and hope to take a similar collaborative approach with guidance from the relevant authorities moving forward to achieve our shared goals,” said Rebecca Teeters, Senior Vice President, Fluorochemical Stewardship. “We will continue to do what we said we would do in Zwijndrecht: strengthen our management of PFAS from Zwijndrecht’s operations, and share information about our actions with the authorities and the public.”
“Treating PFAS in water is scientifically complex. In working with 3M we implemented a PFAS treatment solution using our advanced Mobile Bridge System to significantly reduce PFAS in the water.” said Chris Jeffery, Senior VP, SUEZ – Water Technologies & Solutions, Europe, Middle East & Africa. “At the same time, we are actively collaborating with 3M to develop the permanent engineered solution using our advanced treatment technologies. With SUEZ’s technologies and 3M’s commitment to continuous improvement, we are able to work together to solve water challenges wherever they occur.”
3M is Managing Current Operations
3M plans to invest up to an estimated €115M in technology at its Zwijndrecht facility to further reduce process discharges, with a goal of reducing PFAS discharges by more than 90% from 2019 levels by April 2022 and more than 99% of PFAS from site water discharges by 2024. These actions are part of 3M’s proactive and voluntary global wastewater management plans, as 3M seeks to enhance its environmental stewardship worldwide.
To achieve these reductions, 3M and third-party experts will engineer new technologies to reduce PFAS in 3M Zwijndrecht discharges. Design, construction, permitting, testing and verifying that these systems are an acceptable solution will take time based on external factors, and 3M hopes to have this system operational by 2024.
3M is Managing Legacy Contamination
While 3M takes action to address current manufacturing, the company is also making progress to address legacy materials. 3M is currently funding and engaged in a Descriptive Soil Investigation (DSI), formally required by Flemish law, under the guidance of OVAM to inform appropriate remedial action plans that will determine what remedial actions 3M will take and pay for. This DSI will help determine people’s sources of potential exposure to PFOS so they can be addressed. 3M has publicly committed to carry out remedial actions as informed by the final outcome of the ongoing soil investigation process.
 Based on discharge data from January, 2021-June, 2021