Protective product packaging

IBM has had a program focused on the environmental attributes of our product packaging since the late 1980s. Under the program, IBM packaging engineers design solutions that minimize toxic substances and packaging waste by specifying nontoxic materials and inks. We keep packaging to a minimum while continuing to provide protection to the product being shipped to clients, and we collaborate with suppliers to use recycled and recyclable materials and promote reuse.

The design of rugged products and other optimization measures for the efficient use of product-protective packaging are addressed within IBM's Product Stewardship program and associated engineering specifications. Efficient use of product packaging and improvements in transportation efficiency are tracked through this program.

IBM's environmental requirements for product packaging are included in our Environmental Packaging Guidelines, which were first published in 1990 and have been updated as needed over the years. Key elements of these guidelines have also been embedded in various engineering specifications and procurement documents, which extend their reach beyond IBM to include our supply chain and other business partners.

For specific requirements and details, see "Packaging requirements" on the Information for suppliers web page.

IBM's environmental packaging requirements incorporate a list of the most commonly used packaging materials. Each is evaluated on a variety of environmental criteria. When options are available, suppliers are required to choose the material that has the least possible adverse effect on the environment. The materials listed are based on practical and regulatory experience and customer feedback. Other environmental areas addressed in the packaging requirements include:

In 2013, the integrated worldwide packaging engineering team saved an estimated 452 metric tons of packaging materials through the implementation of 19 packaging redesign projects for parts and assemblies shipped to manufacturing locations, and for packaged finished products supplied to clients worldwide. These projects delivered an annual materials and transport cost savings estimated at $4.74 million. The following are highlights of two projects implemented:

IBM suppliers are also applying these types of new design specifications across IBM and with their other customers to deliver tangible benefits across the integrated supply chain. Over the last six years, IBM has reported combined environmental savings of over 6,670 metric tons of product packaging materials from redesign projects implemented by the packaging engineering team worldwide. The total materials and transportation cost savings was $65.1 million over the same period, benefiting IBM, parts suppliers and clients globally.