Water and materials conservation

IBM strives to conserve resources across its operations. Two examples are water and materials conservation.

Water conservation

IBM's microelectronics manufacturing operations have been our company's most water-intensive business activities. In 2014, these operations represented 88 percent -- or 8,937 of 10,152 thousand cubic meters (TCMs) -- of the water used in our manufacturing operations and laboratories worldwide.

Though our microelectronics operations are not located in areas of water scarcity, in 2000 we established a goal to achieve average annual water conservation savings equal to 2 percent of IBM's water use in microelectronics manufacturing operations each year, based on the water usage of the previous year and measured over a rolling five-year period. This voluntary environmental goal measures annual water conservation resulting from new water reduction projects and improvements in water reuse and recycling by these operations.

Water conservation initiatives in IBM's microelectronics manufacturing locations achieved a 3.3 percent annual savings in 2014, versus 2013 usage. Over the past five years, initiatives at these locations have achieved an average of 2.3 percent water conservation savings against the 2 percent goal.

The significant efforts undertaken by IBM's microelectronics operations in the early years of our water conservation goal were very effective in capturing opportunities for water conservation. Over the past 14 years, conservation efforts have avoided the accumulated use of 21,039 TCMs of water.

Materials conservation and reuse

In addition to its waste management programs, IBM has a wide range of initiatives that conserve materials through reuse and recycling in the company's products and in its procurement of paper and wood-based packaging. Some examples:

  • IBM's requirement for sourcing packaging materials:

    IBM established its voluntary environmental goal for the responsible sourcing of paper and paper/wood-based packaging in 2002. It stated that the paper and paper/wood-based packaging directly acquired by IBM should be procured from suppliers that source from sustainably managed forests, where such sources exist.

    When this goal was first established, sufficient quantities of sustainably sourced paper and packaging materials were not available to meet our needs. In 2014, after a continued focus on this objective by IBM and our suppliers over the years, 99 percent of the paper and paper/wood-based packaging IBM procured worldwide came from suppliers that warranted that the source was derived from forests managed in an ecologically sound and sustainable manner. This requirement is now incorporated into our standard supplier specification for paper/wood-based packaging.