Responsibility at IBM

2012 Corporate Responsibility Report

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In this section, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Ginni Rometty’s letter describes how IBM’s goal to unite its business and citizenship strategies is taking shape. We take a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to corporate responsibility and corporate citizenship at IBM, and we integrate that approach into many aspects of our company. In this section you will also find a high-level overview of some of our major activities.


It’s not enough to develop world-class technology, services and expertise—at IBM we realize we must directly apply these things to the communities in which we live and work in order to have a positive impact. In this section, you will find examples of the ways we practiced this approach over the course of 2012 and into 2013.

The IBMer

A great company is forever evolving and growing. At IBM, we make it a top priority to hire, support and retain the people who make us a great company. In this section, you will find examples of the ways we support both the personal and professional development of our employees.


IBM’s unwavering commitment to environmental protection is evidenced across all of our business activities, from our research, development, products and services to the solutions we provide our clients that help them be more protective of the environment. In this section of IBM’s Corporate Responsibility Report, you will find information on our environmental programs, performance and solutions during 2012.

Supply Chain

Social and environmental responsibility is an important part of our business relationships with our suppliers. We work closely with them to encourage sustained improvement throughout our global supply chain and across various aspects of corporate responsibility. In this section you will find examples of how we set requirements for the companies we do business with, grow the global diversity of our supply base and collaborate with industry groups and stakeholders.


IBM’s culture of ethics and integrity is guided by a rigorous system of corporate governance. In this section, you will find examples of the many ways we govern the conduct of the company, manage risk and contribute our expertise to public discourse.

Awards & Metrics

Many of our corporate responsibility efforts received recognition from others in 2012. The most significant of these are listed in “Awards and Recognition.” We rely on a number of metrics to measure our corporate responsibility efforts. Our Key Performance Indicators and other significant metrics can be found in “Performance Summary.”

Pollution Prevention

Pollution prevention is a critical aspect of IBM’s environmental efforts, and it includes, among other things, the management of hazardous waste, nonhazardous waste and chemical releases.

Hazardous Waste

The best way to prevent pollution is to reduce the generation of hazardous waste at its source. This has been a basic philosophy behind IBM’s pollution prevention program since 1971. Where possible, we redesign processes to eliminate or reduce chemical use and substitute more environmentally preferable chemicals. We maintain programs for proper management of the chemicals needed for research, development and manufacturing, from selection and purchase to storage, use and final disposal.

To more effectively track IBM’s hazardous waste management performance, we developed a methodology to correlate the hazardous waste generated from our manufacturing operations relative to production in 1992 and expanded it to our manufacturing operations worldwide in 1993. We established a voluntary environmental goal based on this methodology in 1995 to drive continual reduction in the hazardous waste generated from these operations.

The goal is to achieve year-to-year reduction in hazardous waste generation from IBM’s manufacturing processes indexed to output. The metric is measured at IBM’s three microelectronics manufacturing locations that generate more than 90 percent (5,357 metric tons) of IBM’s hazardous waste generation attributable to manufacturing processes (5,841 metric tons), although not all hazardous waste generated at these locations are indexed to production.

In 2012, IBM’s hazardous waste generation indexed to output increased by 2.9 percent, or 68 metric tons, compared to 2011. There were two primary factors for this year-to-year increase: 1) an increased quantity of a hazardous waste solvent from a photolithography process, and 2) an increase in a hazardous waste stream from another wafer production line caused by a tool set problem that temporarily resulted in additional water entering the waste stream before the problem could be addressed.

hazardous waste reduction indexed to output year to year from 2008 2012

For the hazardous waste that is generated, we focus on preventing pollution through a comprehensive, proactive waste management program. For example, the waste solvents from photolithography are considered hazardous waste by regulatory definition and are therefore included in our hazardous waste metric. However, IBM has an active program for the off-site reclamation and beneficial use of the primary spent solvent in this waste. As is noted in the Awards and Recognition section of this report, our manufacturing location in East Fishkill, New York, received a Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Award from the US National Pollution Prevention Roundtable for its On-site and Off-site Waste Solvent Accomplishments Project in 2012.

Of the almost 7,400 metric tons of total hazardous waste IBM generated worldwide in 2012, 36 percent was recycled, 14 percent was sent off-site for treatment, 11 percent was sent for incineration, and the rest was sent to suitable regulated landfills worldwide. Of the total amount sent to landfills, approximately 90 percent were hazardous waste sludges generated from on-site industrial wastewater treatment processes. Government regulations required disposition of these hazardous waste sludges in secure landfills.

2012 total generated hazardous waste worldwide by treatment method; 7,400 Metric Tons Total

Hazardous Waste Generation


In 2012, IBM’s hazardous waste generation indexed to output increased by 2.9% (68 metric tons) over 2011— despite ongoing, focused reduction efforts. There were two primary factors for this year-to-year increase: 1) an increased use of a solvent in a photolithography process, and 2) a mechanical problem that resulted in additional water entering a hazardous waste stream before the situation could be addressed

Nonhazardous Waste

IBM also has focused for decades on preventing the generation of nonhazardous waste, and where this is not practical, recovering and recycling the materials that are generated. Nonhazardous waste includes paper, wood, metals, glass, plastics and other nonhazardous chemical substances.

We established our first voluntary environmental goal to recycle nonhazardous waste streams in 1988. The goal has since evolved on two fronts. The first expanded on the traditional dry waste streams to include nonhazardous chemical waste and end-of-life IT equipment from our own operations as well as IBM-owned equipment that is returned by external customers at the end of a lease. The second expansion was made to include nonhazardous waste generated by IBM at leased locations, meeting designated criteria.

In 2012, IBM’s worldwide operations generated approximately 68,900 metric tons of nonhazardous waste. This represents an absolute reduction of an estimated 1,200 metric tons, or 2 percent, when compared to 2011 quantities. The reduction was despite an annual increase in the generation of construction debris and an increase in end-of-life IT equipment and parts managed by IBM in 2012, when compared to 2011 quantities. Waste reduction and avoidance initiatives by IBM worldwide were estimated to have prevented the generation of 2,400 metric tons of nonhazardous waste, with estimated annual handling, treatment and disposal cost savings and revenue returns totaling $1.8 million. In addition, IBM worldwide product end-of-life management (PELM) operations reused 2,673 metric tons of end-of-life IT equipment and parts that were recovered during 2012.

Our voluntary environmental goal is to send an average of 75 percent of the nonhazardous waste generated at locations managed by IBM to be recycled. In 2012, we recovered and sent 87 percent of nonhazardous waste generated from designated IBM locations to be recycled.

The increase in our recycling rate for 2012 was partially attributable to the recategorization of some general office waste streams in Europe to indicate that they are being sent for energy recovery at controlled incineration facilities. IBM categorizes incineration with energy recovery as a method of recycling for the purposes of reporting against this goal. Ongoing reforms to waste management legislation in Europe are requiring that certain solid waste streams previously disposed of in landfills be diverted by waste management suppliers to beneficial reuse practices such as energy recovery.

Treatment methods that were credited towards the recycling target included: recycle, reuse, energy recovery, composting, reclamation, fuel blending and land farming. Treatment methods that result in a non-beneficial use that are not credited towards the recycling target include:

  • Incineration
  • Landfilling
  • Treatment, such as aqueous treatment, biodegradation of organics,
    filtration, neutralization and stabilization

Total Annual IBM-Generated Nonhazardous Waste Quantity and Recycling Performance

Metric Tons x 1,00020082009201020112012
Total sent for recycling6260565560
Total generated8279717069
Percentage recycled*76%76%79%78%87%
* Percent recycled versus the target of 75%
2012 total generated nonhazardous waste worldwide by treatment method; 68,900 Metric Tons Total

Nonhazardous Waste Recycling


Send an average of 75% of the nonhazardous waste generated at locations managed by IBM to be recycled


In 2012, IBM sent 87% of our nonhazardous waste to be recycled

Management of Chemical Releases

Under Section 313 of the US Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), companies are required to file an annual inventory of reportable quantities of more than 600 chemicals that were manufactured, processed or otherwise used in quantities exceeding the reporting threshold of 10,000 pounds (4.54 metric tons) for the preceding calendar year. These reportable quantities include:

  • Routine releases of chemicals to the environment (e.g., permitted air emissions, water discharges, etc.)
  • Chemical quantities that are treated, recycled or combusted for energy recovery on-site
  • Chemical quantities that are sent off-site for recycling, combustion for energy recovery, treatment or disposal

Though EPCRA is a US reporting requirement, we have voluntarily extended this reporting metric to cover our worldwide operations since 1994. In 2012, IBM’s worldwide reportable quantities of EPCRA-listed chemicals amounted to 2,797 metric tons, representing a reduction of 13.5 percent compared to 2011. More than 81 percent of this quantity was treated on-site or sent off-site for recycling or combustion for energy recovery.

2012 worldwide reportable quantities of epcra-listed chemicals; 2,797 Metric Tons Total worldwide reportable quantities of epcra-listed chemicals bar

2012 Worldwide Reportable Quantities of EPCRA-Listed Chemicals

ChemicalMetric Tons
Sulfuric acid (Aerosol only)1,182
Nitrate compound647
Hydrogen fluoride210
Nitric acid156
All others161

IBM’s voluntary goal in this area is to achieve year-to-year reduction in routine releases of EPCRA reportable chemicals to the environment, indexed to output.

In 2012, IBM’s routine releases of EPCRA reportable chemicals indexed to output increased by 3.8 percent from the prior year. The primary reasons for this year-over-year increase was an increase in nitrate releases indexed to output from two processes at one of our manufacturing sites. One increase was due to delayed connection of manufacturing equipment to a new chemical reuse system. The other was a reduction in wastewater treatment efficiency during the fourth quarter caused by new wastewater characteristics attributable to the installation of new manufacturing equipment.

Releases of nitrate compounds from this facility are not impacting the quality of the receiving water body in a material way and nitrate compound concentration is not a parameter that is regulated by our discharge permit at this facility. However, limiting discharges of nitrate compounds is an IBM corporate requirement that is set in our own environmental practices. Accordingly, and consistent with our environmental management system, we continue to invest in process upgrades and treatments aimed at reducing nitrate discharges in our effluents.