IBM operations could potentially impact the environment in a number of ways. Chemicals needed for research, development, manufacturing processes and services must be properly managed, from purchase through storage, use and disposal. Certain processes are energy and/or water-intensive. In addition, IBM products should be designed so that they can be reused, recycled or disposed of properly at the end of their useful lives.
To identify and effectively manage the potential environmental impact of IBM's operations, IBM established and has maintained a strong worldwide environmental management system (EMS) for decades. It is a vital element in the company's efforts to achieve results consistent with environmental leadership.
Corporate policy and instructions
IBM's environmental affairs policy provides the strategic framework for the company's environmental management system and environmental affairs objectives. These objectives address areas such as workplace safety, the conservation of energy and other natural resources, environmental protection, and the development and manufacture of environmentally conscious products.
This policy is supported by corporate instructions, practices and standards that govern IBM's worldwide operations and are basic to its environmental management programs. These documents cover areas such as chemical and waste management, energy management, environmental evaluation of suppliers, product stewardship, incident prevention and reporting, and environmental impact assessment for real estate transactions.
Responsibilities and integration
IBM's EMS involves IBM employees across all of its business units in the company's commitment to leadership in environmental affairs. Its structure and programs are designed to integrate environmental considerations throughout the company's operations.
IBM's corporate environmental affairs staff is responsible for establishing the company's worldwide environmental affairs strategy, the EMS requirements, and for monitoring its implementation. The company's environmental programs are implemented by professionals at manufacturing, development and research sites around the world. Local performance is overseen by environmental staff at headquarters of major IBM geographic organizations.
Within operating units, IBM employees serve as team leaders for environmental affairs. This ensures that their organizations coordinate with other functions on interrelated activities affecting environmental issues and programs. Further, each of the groups responsible for product design and hardware development have a person assigned who has the responsibility to integrate product stewardship objectives into the design and development of IBM products and solutions.
IBM executives are responsible for the safety and environmental performance of their organizations. All employees are required by corporate policy and by the company's Business Conduct Guidelines to comply with environmental laws and with IBM's own environmental, health and safety programs. Environmental performance and programs are reviewed by the IBM Board of Directors committee responsible for corporate governance.
Relevant environmental training is integral to the proper functioning of the EMS.
All IBM employees worldwide are periodically required to read and certify their compliance to IBM's Business Conduct Guidelines. These Guidelines cover areas in which employees have a responsibility to the company, and they include the awareness of and compliance with IBM's corporate environmental policy and other environmental requirements.
Environmental training is commensurate with employees' job responsibilities. There may be several types of training required, with depth of content and breadth of topics varying depending on the work location activities, products and services, and on the duties performed by employees. Accordingly, environmental training can range from general environmental awareness to more complex, professional training such as hazardous waste management training and certification, training for treatment plant operations, etc.
IBM locations and/or business units identify environmental training needs and provide appropriate training for employees. Employees having environmental responsibilities in their jobs must be competent in their function (i.e., possess the ability, knowledge and any other necessary attribute to perform their job). A documented procedure is maintained to ensure these employees are aware of, understand and are trained for the following:
Monitoring and measuring effective implementation of the EMS
IBM employs a variety of mechanisms to monitor and measure the effective implementation of its EMS requirements. These include: