Environmental evaluations of suppliers

In line with IBM's longstanding commitment to doing business with environmentally responsible suppliers, and as part of its global environmental management system, IBM conducts environmental evaluations of suppliers when IBM:

Environmental requirements are documented in our contracts with suppliers conducting these types of activities anywhere in the world. These may include requirements related to chemical content, chemical management, waste management, spill prevention, health and safety, downstream supplier management, and reporting.

For suppliers providing hazardous waste management services or product end-of-life management services, IBM conducts a three-stage supplier environmental evaluation, with increasing levels of detail, depending on the risks associated with and the potential environmental impacts from the supplier's operations.

We evaluate these suppliers prior to entering into a contract with them, and then approximately every three years thereafter, to ensure their operations and commitment to workplace safety and sound environmental practices continue to meet our requirements. The evaluations are conducted by IBM's Corporate Environmental Affairs staff, or internal or third-party environmental professionals under the direction of this staff.

IBM's hazardous waste and product end-of-life management supplier evaluations are comprehensive in the scope of the environmental aspects covered, including:

IBM also requires its hazardous waste and product end-of- life management suppliers to track the shipment and processing of any hazardous materials they handle for IBM -- down to the final treatment, recycling or disposal location -- and to report that information to us.

As with all of our environmental programs, IBM manages its hazardous waste and product end-of-life management programs to the same high standards worldwide. Doing so can be particularly challenging in some countries where processing infrastructure that meets IBM's requirements (for treatment, recycling and/or disposal) is limited or nonexistent.

Under IBM's waste management program, hazardous wastes are treated, recycled or disposed of at IBM- approved facilities within the country where they are generated, whenever possible. IBM does not export hazardous wastes from the U.S. or any other country where suitable processing facilities are available within the country.

If there are no suppliers in a country that meet IBM's environmental and safety requirements for hazardous waste or product processing, the waste generated by IBM's operations is shipped to facilities in other countries where those requirements can be met. This shipping is done in compliance with country laws and regulations, and in accordance with international treaties such as the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.

Though rare, there are sometimes situations in which local processing of waste is not possible and shipping to IBM- approved suppliers in other countries is not allowed due to legal requirements. In these situations, IBM will store wastes and product end-of-life materials in properly contained and managed storage facilities, as allowed by law, until suitable processing facilities are available.

IBM's supplier evaluation program was extended in 2014 to cover suppliers providing collective solutions (e.g., consortia) for the management of IBM's end-of-life product wastes. These suppliers have become more important as new extended producer responsibility regulatory schemes have been implemented in many countries. IBM evaluates the collective solutions we use to fulfill our responsibilities as a manufacturer of products covered by such schemes, as well as collective solutions that we use for the disposal of products purchased for our internal use.

In 2016, IBM established a goal to have its first-tier suppliers providing product end-of-life management, recycling and disposal services in the U.S., Canada and the European Union (EU) attain third-party certification to a responsible recycling standard such as R2, e-Stewards, WEEELABEX, EN 50625, or other IBM-acceptable equivalent standards. The goal has a phased implementation for each region with the following target dates: year-end 2016 for the U.S., year-end 2017 for Canada, and year-end 2018 for the EU. As of year-end 2017, our first-tier suppliers in the U.S. and Canada achieved the goal, and first-tier suppliers in the EU are on track to achieve the goal by year-end 2018.


Key milestones