Water and materials conservation

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

Water conservation

The preservation of water resources and the protection of watersheds are important areas of focus for IBM. Through IBM's global environmental management system, IBM continues to improve water-use efficiency and to minimize our operational impact on water resources.

IBM established its first water conservation goal in 2000, focusing on the significant use of water in our microelectronics manufacturing operations. From 2000 to 2015, IBM's water conservation efforts avoided the accumulated use of 21.3 million cubic meters of water in those operations.

Our current water use is primarily associated with cooling and humidity control at offices and data centers, domestic consumption at the workplace, building fire protection systems, and landscape irrigation.

In 2016, IBM established its latest water conservation goal to achieve year-to-year reductions in water withdrawals at larger IBM locations and data centers in water-stressed regions. We use the World Resources Institute's Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, which highlights regions around the world where water resources are stressed to meet human and ecological demand. We identify IBM locations in areas of "high" or "extremely high" baseline water-stress and incorporate this with site specific criteria to determine the locations subject to our water conservation goal.

In 2019, water withdrawals at these IBM locations decreased by 2% versus 2018. Reductions resulted from better management of water used in building heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, adjustments to humidification equipment for regulating environmental conditions in data centers, efficiency enhancements to deionized water purification systems, improved maintenance of water pipelines, installation of water saving devices in restrooms, and water awareness initiatives at our locations.

In addition, these locations avoided water withdrawals through actions such as reuse of rejected deionized water from purification equipment, and recycling of site wastewater for use in evaporative cooling systems and in landscape irrigation systems. In 2019, on-site reuse of process water and recycling of treated wastewater at these locations was equivalent to 5% of their total water use.

For more information, please see the "Conservation and pollution prevention" section of our latest annual environmental report on our environmental reporting webpage.

Materials conservation and reuse

In addition to its waste avoidance and 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 paper/wood-based packaging. For more information, visit our Product recycling programs and Protective product packaging webpages.