3M, the conglomerate behind Post-It notes and Scotch tape, will stop making controversial per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) by the end of 2025.
The chemicals, commonly known as “forever chemicals,” are found in hundreds of household items and used to make coatings and products that can repel water, grease, heat and oil. The most recent science suggests that these chemicals are much more hazardous to human health than scientists had initially thought and probably more dangerous at levels thousands of times lower than previously believed.
In a statement Tuesday, 3M said its decision is “based on careful consideration and a thorough evaluation of the evolving external landscape,” acknowledging that regulations are cracking down on the chemicals.
For example, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal earlier this year to label “forever chemicals” as hazardous substances. California also announced a lawsuit recently to recoup the clean-up costs from PFAS.
“While PFAS can be safely made and used, we also see an opportunity to lead in a rapidly evolving external regulatory and business landscape to make the greatest impact for those we serve,” said 3M CEO Mike Roman in a statement. “This action is another example of how we are positioning 3M for continued sustainable growth by optimizing our portfolio, innovating for our customers, and delivering long-term value for our shareholders.”
The company expects to take a financial hit of about $1.3 billion to $2.3 billion over the next few years because of the PFAS discontinuation. Yet 3M (MMM) said PFAS represents a “small portion” of its revenue.
Over the past decade, chemical manufacturers have voluntarily stopped producing two of the most commonly used forever chemicals, including PFOS and PFOA.
At the federal level, the US Food and Drug Administration phased out the use of certain PFAS chemicals in 2016. The FDA and manufacturers agreed in 2020 to phase out some PFAS chemicals from food packaging and other items that came into contact with food. However, FDA monitoring of the environment showed that the chemicals tend to linger.
– CNN’s Jen Christensen contributed to this report.