3M: Leading the Way in Sustainability

3M: Leading the Way in Sustainability
Case Code: CSRS012
Case Length: 16 Pages
Period: 2010-2021
Pub Date: 2023
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.400
Organization: The 3M Company
Industry: Conglomerate
Countries: United States
Themes: Sustainability, Brand Strategy,Corporate Responsibility,Sustainable Innovation
3M: Leading the Way in Sustainability
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


The case “3M: Leading the Way in Sustainability” mentions the various efforts of The 3M Company (3M) – a US-based multinational conglomerate – to become a sustainability leader. The case briefly mentions some of 3M’s early efforts to protect the environment, starting from its pioneering Pollution Prevention Pays (PPP) program that began in 1975. It was in the 2010s that the company decidedly increased its focus on sustainability and formulated the Strategic Sustainability Framework, with 15 sustainability goals set for 2025. 3M claimed to have set the goals after conducting strategic interviews with over 50 stakeholder groups. Being world-renowned as an innovative company, 3M realized that to continue its run of innovative products, it had to focus on innovations that would reduce environmental impact and assuage rising consumer concerns about the environment. The case then documents 3M’s ‘Sustainability Value Commitment’ (SVC) for all new products, wherein it sought to develop products that solved an environmental issue and/or addressed a societal concern. During product and packaging design, 3M looked at raw material choices with an eye on building circular economy principles. The company also sought to source raw materials ethically and even employed supply chain digitization to support its sustainability and corporate social responsibility efforts. Will 3M, through its various efforts, succeed in helping its customers find a sustainable future?


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Understand the factors that drive a company to focus on sustainability initiatives
  • Analyze the sustainability framework of a company
  • Examine the specific initiatives undertaken by a company to be environmentally conscious and become carbon neutral
  • Scrutinize a company’s efforts to do ethical sourcing of raw materials
  • Appreciate the Green R&D initiatives of a large corporate
  • Assess the adoption of circular economy principles in a company’s product development strategy



Sustainability; Ethical Sourcing; Circularity; Corporate Social Responsibility; Innovation; New Product Development; Recycling; Carbon Neutral; Green R&D; Customer Environment Consciousness; Life Cycle Assessment; Pillars of Sustainability; Ethics; Corporate Values; Brand Management

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