Protective product packaging

IBM has had a program focused on the environmental attributes of its product packaging since the late 1980s. A key priority is to design products which can be shipped with a minimum amount of packaging materials. Beyond that, whenever possible, we choose packaging materials that have the least adverse impact on the environment, collaborating with suppliers to use recycled and recyclable materials and to promote reuse.

Our corporate environmental requirements for product packaging are embedded in various engineering specifications and procurement documents, which extend their reach beyond IBM to include our supply chain and other business partners.

All product packaging suppliers that pack or ship products to customers on behalf of IBM worldwide must submit packaging environmental data to IBM, along with other relevant compliance and performance data. Suppliers that do not conform to an IBM specification or other requirement must submit and implement improvement plans to close out the identified issues within an agreed timeframe.

IBM's strategy for reducing the environmental impact of our packaging includes:

During 2020, IBM's product packaging engineers investigated opportunities to minimize waste from plastic packaging by eliminating any remaining non-essential plastics, increasing recycled content, and using alternative materials that can be commercially recycled. For highlights of this work, please see the "Product packaging" section of our latest environmental report.

IBM's supplier environmental packaging requirements are accessible from the Resources for suppliers webpage.


Sourcing of paper and paper/wood-based packaging material

In 2020, over 99 percent (based on spend) of the paper and paper/wood-based packaging IBM directly procured worldwide came from suppliers that warranted that the source was derived from sustainably managed forests.

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

Suppliers from whom IBM procures these commodities must either disclose their sources for paper and paper/wood-based packaging to IBM, or provide evidence that their sources have been certified by an accredited third-party certification program to be from sustainably managed forests.

Requirements in support of this goal are incorporated into our standard supplier specifications for procuring paper and paper/wood-based packaging.