Seems not even Scotchgard can protect maker of passive aggressive fridge notes and life saving scrubs, 3M (MMM), against legacy industrial woes that have followed them to Europe. 🧽 Like fellow industrial giants DuPont (DD), The Chemours Company (CC) and Corteva (CTVA) - who fronted up to ‘decades-long deception’, last year jointly forking out US$4 billion to settle fresh lawsuits related to ‘forever chemicals’ - industrial conglomerate 3M has found themselves in dark waters.
The problem? Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl, or PFAS. These are synthetic chemicals used to make eggs not stick to frying pans, create water resistant clothing, fire fighting foam and even cosmetics. 🍳 They’ve been shown to build up in blood streams and are linked to serious harmful health effects in animals and humans - even passing through mother’s milk to babies. 🤱
From 1976 to 2002, American behemoth 3M produced PFAS in Antwerp, Belgium. Roll on 20 years, and a dogged US$4.8 billion tunnel project has unearthed ‘extraordinary levels of toxins’, with PFAS now found in residents’ bloodstreams. In the US, 3M admitted to ‘unlawful release’ of PFAS and has paid out millions to settle cases. In Belgium, the multinational tried to hide land contamination but was caught out during secret handshake deals. 🤝 This July they brought a not-so-‘lame-ass offer’ to the table, agreeing to payout US$582 million. They’ve also been ordered to remove 1.5 metres of garden topsoil impacting around 1,000 residents who live near the 3M chemical plant. And they may yet face criminal charges with the possibility of prison sentences. 🚨
3M’s already been digging a hole in the share markets, with their stock price steadily falling 44.7% since 2017 and tumbling 28% in the first half of 2022. 🕳️ In January, they paid out US$110 million in damages for allegedly defective earplugs and a further US$77.5 million to one veteran, with another 100,000 affected veterans filing proceedings. Share price drops are not unusual in today’s climate. But 3M’s costs keep piling up, with some saying they may exceed US$1 billion. Things that don’t make you go mmm…