Skip to main content

IBM Receives Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Awards for Second Consecutive Year

IBM recognized for PFOS and PFOA elimination in semiconductor manufacturing and for chemical usage reductions in its 300mm manufacturing facility

11 Oct 2010 -- IBM received two 2010 Most Valuable Pollution Prevention (MVP2) Awards from the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable: one for the elimination of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) compounds from the company's chip manufacturing processes in Burlington, VT and East Fishkill, NY, and one for chemical usage reductions at IBM's 300mm manufacturing facility in East Fishkill, NY.

This is the second year in a row and the third time in four years that IBM has received an MVP2 Award.

In a joint collaboration between its Burlington, VT, and East Fishkill, NY, facilities, IBM eliminated all known uses of PFOS and PFOA from its chip manufacturing processes, becoming the first in the industry to announce elimination of these two compounds. PFOS and PFOA are perhaps most commonly known for their use in stain repellents and other commercial formulations, however they also are used in the semiconductor industry for wafer patterning and etching processes. Although these compounds remain permitted for use in semiconductor manufacturing, research has shown that they are persistent in the environment and bioaccumulative -- they can build up in the environment and gradually increase in concentration over time.

IBM began a staged phase-out of PFOS and PFOA in 2003, a plan that required the work of hundreds of IBM scientists and engineers, IBM partners and suppliers. IBM prohibited the compounds' use in the development of new materials in 2005 and in new manufacturing applications in 2007. IBM successfully eliminated PFOS and PFOA in its wet etch processes at the end of 2008 and eliminated them from its photolithography processes as of January 31, 2010.

Developing alternatives for these chemicals was an ambitious technological challenge. The transition to the new formulations had to be implemented and qualified across a large array of processes without impacting customer product delivery commitments. A number of companies in more than five countries now have access to this solution through their technology development alliances with IBM.

At the company's East Fishkill, NY, facility, there are no municipal wastewater services available, which requires IBM to maintain its own wastewater treatment systems. Chemical usage reductions provide a direct benefit, and in turn, also reduce the chemicals needed for wastewater treatment. In 2007, the site identified chemical usage reduction within the wet chemical sector of its 300mm manufacturing facility as a primary pollution prevention objective, since chemical usage had been increasing there each year. IBM assembled a team from its 300mm manufacturing and development organizations and used lean manufacturing techniques to identify areas where chemicals could be reduced. The team identified reduction amounts for two chemicals (96% for sulfuric acid and 31% for hydrogen peroxide) which led to reductions in chemical usage of two other chemicals (29% for ammonium hydroxide and 37% for hydrochloric acid) and two wastewater treatment chemicals (50% for sodium hydroxide and 38% for sodium bisulfite). In total, approximately 18,000,000 pounds per year of chemical reductions were achieved comparing usage in 2007 to 2009 despite a 5% increase in production.

IBM was previously recognized with two MVP2 Awards at its Burlington, VT, facility; in 2007 for its innovative reuse and reclamation of silicon wafers and in 2009 for improvements to its wastewater treatment operations that contributed to significant phosphorus reductions in the wastewater discharges.