Environmental evaluations of suppliers

As part of our longstanding corporate commitment to environmental leadership across all of our business activities, IBM is committed to working with environmentally and socially responsible suppliers. The objectives of our requirements for suppliers and our supplier evaluation programs include:

Key milestones of this leadership over the past four decades include the following:

IBM's environmental requirements for its suppliers are set forth in a corporate directive that governs the contracts by which we:

Specific environmental requirements are documented in our contracts with suppliers conducting these types of activities. These may include requirements related to chemical content, chemical management, waste management, spill prevention, health and safety and reporting, to mention some of the most relevant ones.

For hazardous waste and product end-of-life management suppliers, IBM conducts an on-site review of the supplier facility's environmental, health, safety and industrial hygiene management program; its medical screening and monitoring programs; and a review of its environmental, health and safety audits for the previous three years. We evaluate these suppliers prior to entering into a contract with them and then again every three years thereafter to ensure their operations and commitment to workplace safety and sound environmental practices continues to meet our requirements. The audits are conducted by IBM's Corporate Environmental staff or by environmental professionals under the direction of this staff.

IBM's hazardous waste and product end-of-life management supplier audits are comprehensive in the scope of the environmental aspects covered. The following provides a summary of the scope of the environmental aspects of the audits:

IBM also requires its hazardous waste and product end-of-life management suppliers to track the shipment and processing of any hazardous materials they handle for IBM and report that information to us.


Global requirements for waste processing (treatment, recycling or disposal) and product end-of-life management (PELM)

As we do with all of our environmental programs, IBM manages its hazardous waste and product end-of-life management programs to the same high standards no matter where in the world we are operating. Doing so can be particularly challenging in some countries when processing infrastructure (treatment, recycling and/or disposal) that meets IBM's requirements is lacking.

If there are no suppliers in a country that meet IBM's environmental and safety requirements for hazardous waste or product processing, the waste generated by IBM's operations is shipped to facilities in other countries where those requirements can be met. This shipping is done in compliance with country laws and regulations and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.

Though rare, there are sometimes situations in which local processing of waste is not possible and shipping to IBM-approved suppliers in other countries is not allowed due to legal requirements. In these situations, IBM will store wastes and product end-of-life materials in properly contained and managed storage facilities until suitable processing facilities are available.


A Case In Point: Lead Acid Battery Recycling

The processing and recycling of lead acid batteries is a concern some interest groups recently brought to our attention. It had been reported in various media that some companies have been exporting lead acid batteries from the U.S. to Mexico or other countries where the batteries may be recycled in operations that are not properly protective of the workers or the environment.

The uninterruptible power units for our data centers contain lead acid batteries -- but all lead acid batteries disposed of by IBM are covered under IBM's hazardous waste management program and are recycled at IBM approved facilities within the country where they are generated, whenever possible. IBM does not export used lead acid batteries from the U.S. or any other country where suitable recycling facilities are available within the country. As noted above, if there is no IBM-approved supplier within a country and the export of the batteries to a country with approved suppliers is not permitted or feasible, we store the batteries until an approved supplier becomes available.