3M first NPWI pilot programme for WRC, direct air capture technology at Climate Week NYC

Multinational conglomerate 3M presented a collaborative pilot programme for water-stressed basins and a direct air capture technology during Climate Week New York City (NYC), US.

At the CEO Water Mandate UN General Assembly (UNGA) corporate water stewardship on 20 Sep 2023, 3M senior vice-president and chief sustainability officer Dr Gayle Schueller discussed the company’s participation in the first net positive water impact (NPWI) pilot programme for the Water Resilience Coalition (WRC). The company will be collaborating to reduce water stress in target basins on three dimensions: availability, quality, and access — applying takeaways from the NPWI piloting workshop it hosted at World Water Week in August. The WRC programme will also assess how NPWI is best evaluated, informing a guidance document that will be published in January 2024 and made available for companies around the world to operationalise.

“The WRC NPWI programme will provide insight for our work across 100 priority water-stressed basins around the world, and the resulting guidance materials will help scale global adoption of our ambitions,” said André Villaça Ramalho, WRC coordinator. “As a leadership member, 3M provides vital support and expertise to the coalition — accelerating measurable watershed outcomes and building long-term water resiliency.”

The NPWI pilot programme builds on work within 3M to reduce overall water use — targeting a 25% reduction by 2030 — and return higher quality water to the environment after use in operations. 3M reportedly reached a 16.8% reduction in water use at the close of 2022, benchmarked to 2019 levels.

“3M scientists and continued corporate investment will maintain momentum toward our water goals in our facilities, including collaborative efforts with global partners like WRC,” Dr Schueller added.

3M spent Climate Week NYC highlighting developments in climate innovation, including direct air capture (DAC) technology, and convening stakeholders from across industries to discuss how materials science can accelerate climate solutions.

3M presented with Svante Technologies president and CEO Claude Letourneau about the DAC solutions, which is said to trap carbon dioxide found in the atmosphere and sequester it. In collaboration with solid sorbent method of carbon capture and removal company Svante, 3M is developing a material called Sorbents-on-a-Roll (SOAR). Sheets of this nanoengineered material are said to be stacked in parallel layers in Svante carbon removal filters.

3M is also currently scaling up production of SOAR material, allowing the material to be built into filters for DAC field trials in 2024. With 3M ability to produce advanced filtration technology at-scale —3M and Svante anticipate it will capture millions of tonnes of CO2 from diverse DAC facilities around the world.

In its own facilities, 3M is building momentum toward its commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The company’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are reportedly down 79% from 2002 levels, including a 38% decrease from levels in 2019. A driving force is said to be its accelerated transition toward renewable energy. The company is committed to using 100% renewable electricity in its operations by 2050 and reached 51.9% at the end of 2022 — tracking ahead of initial forecasts.

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