Global environmental management system

IBM manages its operations to minimize their potential impact on the environment. Chemicals needed for research, development, manufacturing processes and services are selected and managed, from purchase through storage, use and disposal to avoid release and contamination of the environment. Buildings, processes and activities are monitored and optimized to minimize their use of water and energy. IBM products are designed to be energy efficient and so that they can be reused, recycled or disposed of properly at the end of their useful lives. Waste materials resulting from our operations are reused and recycled where possible.

To identify and effectively manage the potential environmental impact of IBM's operations, IBM has established and maintained a strong worldwide environmental management system (EMS) for decades. IBM's environmental management system is a vital element in the company's efforts to achieve results consistent with environmental leadership.

Corporate policy and instructions

IBM's environmental affairs policy provides the strategic framework for the company's global environmental management system (EMS). This policy calls for environmental leadership in all of the company's business activities.

Achieving leadership is enabled through the implementation of our EMS, which integrates corporate directives governing IBM's conduct and operations worldwide. These directives cover areas such as energy conservation and climate protection, product stewardship, pollution prevention, chemical and waste management, and environmental evaluation of suppliers -- as well as incident prevention, preparedness, response and reporting. It is through the consistent implementation of this EMS that IBM ensures operations are executed with the same protective standards for the environment in every country where IBM conducts business.

Responsibilities and integration

IBM's EMS is executed by employees from across all of its business units. Its structure and programs are designed to integrate environmental considerations throughout the company's operations.

Under the direction of the Vice President of Corporate Environmental Affairs & Product Safety, IBM's corporate environmental affairs staff is responsible for establishing the company's worldwide environmental affairs strategy, the EMS requirements, and for monitoring its implementation.

The company's environmental programs are implemented by professionals at manufacturing, development and research sites around the world. Within operating units, IBM executives are responsible for the environmental performance of their respective business functions or locations. Every employee is expected to follow IBM's corporate environmental policy and report any environmental, health or safety concerns to IBM management. Managers are expected to take prompt action when faced with a potential violation of the corporate policy or directives. In addition, IBM's Business Conduct Guidelines, our code of business conduct and ethics for all IBM employees, includes a section highlighting employee responsibilities for protecting the environment.

Environmental goals

Environmental goals are an important part of IBM's EMS. We maintain a range of environmental goals designed to address significant environmental aspects and the impacts of our operations, and to drive continual improvement of our environmental performance, including goals on energy and water conservation, renewable electricity, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, product stewardship energy efficiency and waste management. These voluntary goals and our performance against them are discussed in our annual Corporate Environmental Reports.

Environmental training

Relevant environmental training is integral to the proper functioning of the EMS. All IBM employees worldwide are periodically required to read and certify their compliance to IBM's Business Conduct Guidelines. These Guidelines cover areas in which employees have a responsibility to the company, and they include the awareness of and compliance with IBM's corporate environmental policy and other environmental requirements. Environmental training is commensurate with employees' job responsibilities.

Monitoring and measuring effective implementation of the EMS

IBM employs a variety of mechanisms to monitor and measure the effective implementation of its EMS requirements. These include:

Fines and penalties

In 2021, IBM received 37 agency inspections at its locations worldwide. One inspection resulted in a $500 fine, related to an unplanned release of drinking water. Over the past five years, IBM has paid two environmental fines totaling $8,000; a $500 fine as noted above and a $7,500 fine resulting from a regulatory inspection of an IBM location in 2020 during which the agency identified inaccuracies in the emergency equipment list portion of the location's hazardous waste contingency plan. In both instances, corrective actions were taken to prevent recurrence.

IBM and ISO 14001

In 1997, IBM became the world's first major multinational to have earned a single worldwide registration to the ISO 14001 standard on environmental management systems.

IBM and ISO 50001

Within one year of the issuance of this standard, we achieved ISO 50001 registration of our energy management program at the corporate level and as an integral component of IBM's global EMS.