IBM has a long history of continually taking proactive steps to evaluate the chemicals used in its processes and products; identifying potential substitutes that may have less impact on the environment, health and safety; and eliminating, restricting and/or prohibiting the use of substances for which a more preferable alternative is available that is capable of meeting quality and safety requirements of its processes and products. The table below provides a summary of IBM's record over more than three decades.

Voluntary materials prohibitions and restrictions by IBM
Substance Year Comments
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) 1978 Prohibited from use in products (Initiated phased approach for elimination in 1974. Achieved by year-end 1978.)
Trichloroethylene Late 1980s Eliminated from use in development and manufacturing processes
Ozone depleting chemicals 1990 Prohibited as expansion agents used in packaging
Polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) 1990 Prohibited from use in packaging
Heavy metals, including lead (Pb), hexavalent chromium and mercury 1990 Prohibited from use in packaging
Class I ozone depleting chemicals 1993 Eliminated from use in development and manufacturing processes, and prohibited from use in products
Asbestos 1993 Prohibited from use in products
Polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) 1993 Prohibited from use in products
Lead (Pb) 1993 Prohibited from use in plastic housings and paints
Hexavalent chromium 1993 Prohibited in inks, dyes, pigments and paints used for IBM products
Mercury 1993 Prohibited from use in IBM parts or assemblies. Specific exemptions (e.g., lamps) were added in 1999.
Cadmium 1993 Prohibited from use in inks, dyes, pigments and paints
Cadmium 1994 Prohibited from use in plastics and plating
Class II ozone depleting chemicals 1995 Eliminated from use in development and manufacturing processes, and prohibited from use in products
Ethylene-based glycol ethers Mid-1990s Eliminated from use in development and manufacturing processes
Polyvinyl chloride Mid-1990s Prohibited from use in packaging
Cadmium Mid-1990s Prohibited from use:
  • cadmium sulfide for phosphorescence in CRT monitors
  • nickel cadmium batteries in notebook computers
Lead (Pb) 1999 Prohibited from use in plastic resins
Tetrachloroethene 2002 Eliminated 99.5% of the use in development and manufacturing processes. Prohibited from new applications.
Hexavalent chromium 2002 Prohibited from plastic resins
Dichloromethane 2003 Eliminated from use in development and manufacturing processes
Specific perfluorinated compounds (PFOS and PFOA) 2005 Prohibited the development of new materials with these compounds
Polyvinyl chloride 2007 Prohibited from system enclosure parts in new products after 2007
Tetrabromobisphenol A 2007 Prohibited as an additive flame retardant in system enclosure parts for new products after 2007
Specific perfluorinated compounds (PFOS and PFOA) 2007 Prohibited from new IBM manufacturing, development and research processes
Specific perfluorinated compounds (PFOS and PFOA) 2010 Eliminated from use in manufacturing, development and research processes as of January 31, 2010