Global consumer goods company 3M employs about 88,000 people, with operations in more than 70 countries; so, what progress is it making in implementing its Responsible Paper Sourcing policy?
Global, science-based company 3M is perhaps best known for inventing the Post-it® Note. It is also responsible for inventing and manufacturing other cutting-edge products in numerous industries, from healthcare and electronics, to aerospace and consumer, with many of its products using pulp and paper.
3M launched a new Pulp and Paper Sourcing Policy in March 2015, marking a commitment to source pulp and paper products that are legal, traceable, not associated with deforestation or harm to high conservation values, and respect workers and indigenous people’s rights. It has partnered with TFT to help implement the policy and recently published its second progress update.
First steps: Supply Chain Transparency and Training
The first job involves tracing its global pulp and paper supply chain, which means engaging with its many suppliers. So far 3M has:
- Traced over 50 percent of its annual spend in each commodity category to at least the paper or pulp mill level, including over 90% of its production papers spend.
- Engaged with direct (tier 1) suppliers through one-on-one engagements regarding the policy expectations and supply chain transparency.
- Held policy training sessions for 3M staff in China, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and India, with Japan scheduled for early 2016, as well as training sessions in North and South America and Europe.
- Conducted supplier policy training sessions in China (Shanghai), Taiwan, and the US (which also involved several European-based suppliers).
At present 3M is continuing to work with suppliers to gather information about its supply chain. Given the sheer number of individual forest sources contributing to the global paper supply chain, this remains the most challenging information to obtain, but also the most important to verify that 3M’s suppliers are meeting its policy’s environmental and social expectations.
Supplier Field Assessments
In the summer of 2015, 3M and TFT conducted three field assessments in China, two paper converters and one paper mill. Supplier assessments at the paper mill or converter level aim to verify adequate systems in place for transparency and traceability. This allows 3M to know the sources of the fiber and assess them against its policy. The social and environmental performance of the supplier facility is also evaluated.
Overall the field assessments found acceptable environmental and social performance at the supplier facilities, and adequate to strong traceability of materials from procurement to product. Of note, one facility was found to have made significant improvements to their traceability systems after attending the 3M policy training provided in Shanghai.
A common area of improvement identified in each assessment was the need to adopt or strengthen the supplier’s policy for sourcing legal and responsible fiber. 3M will look for its suppliers to enact more advanced responsible fiber sourcing policies, in line with 3M’s own policy expectations, in the coming months.