Frequently asked questions

Q: Does IBM have an Environmental policy and is it published?

A: Yes. IBM has a longstanding commitment to environmental affairs leadership and issued its first formal corporate policies on safe & healthful workplace, environmental protection, and conservation in 1967, 1971 and 1974 respectively. These policies have been updated over time and were consolidated into one corporate policy on environmental affairs in 1990. That policy too has been updated, and the most recent version appears under Environmental affairs policy on this Web site.

Q: Does IBM publish an annual environmental report?

A: Yes, IBM has been publishing an environmental report annually since 1990. The company's environmental stewardship also was incorporated into IBM's Corporate Responsibility Report for 2002, the first year of this report, as well as in its subsequent annual reports. The most recent reports appear on this Web site under Environmental reporting, disclosure & verification.

Q: What is IBM's environmental management system? Is it certified to any national or international standards?

A: IBM has had a strong environmental management system for decades in support of its corporate policy. At the end of 1997, IBM became the first major multinational to earn a single global registration to ISO 14001 covering all of its manufacturing and hardware development operations around the world. The company has since expanded its registration. More information on this may be found under Global environmental management system on this Web site.

Q: Does IBM identify the environmental impacts of its business activities?

A: Yes. As part of its environmental management system, IBM identifies those areas in which it can potentially impact the environment to ensure it has programs in place to address these issues. With regard to specific processes, IBM uses the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), a procedure that documents the environmental consequences of a manufacturing process. EIAs assess material, chemical and energy use, waste generation, emissions to air, and discharges to water for a manufacturing process. This decision-making tool helps to identify and evaluate potentially adverse environmental effects arising for IBM manufacturing processes as they are developed and as they may be modified over time. Potential environmental consequences are also evaluated within IBM's product design process.

Q: Does IBM use CFCs in its products and manufacturing processes?

A: No, IBM does not use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride or 1,1,1-trichloroethane (methyl chloroform) in its manufacturing processes or products. IBM eliminated these substances from its manufacturing processes and products at the end of 1993.

Q: Does IBM use CFC refrigerants?

A: IBM does not install new chillers that use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs, e.g. CFC-11, CFC-12, etc) as refrigerants, but it does use CFC refrigerants in its existing building chillers and cooling systems. However, as new and less ozone depleting refrigerants become available, and where feasible, IBM locations are phasing out of CFC-based chillers. Chillers are close-loop systems. If maintained properly, only a small percent of a chiller's charge would leak under normal operating conditions. IBM locations are required to maintain their chillers in good condition and preventive maintenance must be conducted.

Q: What is IBM doing to decrease its impact on global climate change?

A: IBM has comprehensive and multifaceted energy management and climate protection programs which include

Q: Does IBM identify the environmental impacts of its products?

A: Yes. As part of its environmental management system, IBM's corporate operations organization identifies and annually revises a list of significant environmental aspects of IBM products. Product stewardship evironmental strategy owners apply and adapt the corporate list of significant aspects to products developed by their business organization. Teams of internal experts within the business organization set objectives and tracking procedures for the relevant environmental aspects of their product set. The impacts of the key environmental aspects for products are tracked and documented through IBM's Product Environmental Profile (PEP) system. The PEP for a product contains information regarding product composition, energy use, consumables, packaging, environmental design attributes, emissions, and recycling or disposal considerations.

Q: Does IBM have a Design for the Environment program for its products?

A: Yes. IBM's Product Stewardship program was established in 1991. Unique to the industry in its technical breadth, the program has pioneered the industry's best practices in design for the environment (DfE), product recycling technologies, and product environmental metrics. IBM's Product stewardship program objectives are:

More about IBM's Product Stewardship program and achievements may be found on this Web site under Product stewardship.

Q: What efforts are made to reduce, reuse and recycle protective packaging for IBM's products?

A: IBM's Worldwide Distribution organization first developed Environmental Packaging Guidelines in 1990. Updated periodically, these Guidelines are a reference and working tool for use by IBM packaging engineers, designers and suppliers when evaluating packaging material and solutions and distribution process alternatives for IBM products, parts, and suppliers to minimize their impact on the environment. The Guidelines provide direction on: