Commitment to Environmental Leadership

Environmental Requirements in the Supply Chain

IBM has a long-standing commitment to protect the environment and to pursue environmental leadership across all of our business activities. As a part of this commitment, it is IBM's desire to do business with suppliers who are environmentally and socially responsible and to encourage environmental and social awareness with these suppliers. Further, there is increasing interest from customers and governments for information about the environmental attributes of IBM’s products, and in many cases, the source for this type of information is IBM’s suppliers.

Program objectives

The objectives of our requirements for suppliers and our supplier evaluation programs include:

While examples of this commitment have been highlighted in other relevant sections of this report, the following graphic provides key milestones of this leadership over the past four decades.

IBM’s environmental evaluations of suppliers

Environmental evaluations of suppliers—key milestones



Established a corporate directive requiring the environmental evaluation of suppliers of hazardous waste services



Expanded our environmental evaluations of suppliers by establishing a second corporate directive to require the environmental evaluation of certain production-related suppliers



Further expanded our environmental evaluations of suppliers, adding a requirement that product recycling and product disposal suppliers be evaluated



Added a requirement to assess our suppliers and certain subcontractors they may use to handle recycling and/or disposal operations in non-OECD countries



Established a requirement that all of IBM's first-tier suppliers establish a management system to address their social and environmental responsibilities—and that they cascade this requirement to their suppliers

IBM’s environmental requirements for its suppliers are set forth in a corporate directive that governs the contracts by which we:

In accordance with IBM’s global procurement management system, specific environmental requirements are documented in our contracts with suppliers conducting certain types of activities anywhere in the world. These may include requirements related to chemical content, chemical management, waste management, spill prevention, health and safety, and reporting, to mention some of the most relevant ones.

For hazardous waste and product end-of-life management suppliers, IBM conducts a supplier evaluation that may include an on-site review of the supplier facility’s environmental, health, safety and industrial hygiene management programs; its medical screening and monitoring programs; and a review of its environmental, health, and safety audits for the previous three years. We evaluate these suppliers prior to entering into a contract with them and then again 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 by environmental professionals under the direction of this staff or by third-party environmental professionals.

IBM’s hazardous waste and product end-of-life management supplier evaluations are comprehensive in the scope of the environmental aspects they address. The following provides a summary of the scope of the environmental aspects covered under these evaluations:

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.

Global requirements for waste processing (treatment, recycling, or disposal) and product end-of-life management

As we do with all of our environmental programs, IBM manages its hazardous waste and product end-of-life management programs to the same high standards no matter where in the world we operate. Doing so can be particularly challenging in some countries where processing infrastructure (treatment, recycling and/or disposal) that meets IBM’s requirements is lacking or nonexistent.

Under IBM’s waste management program, hazardous and nonhazardous special 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 and nonhazardous special wastes from the United States or any other country when 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 accord 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 stores the wastes and product end-of-life materials in properly contained and managed storage facilities as allowed by law and until suitable processing facilities are available.

IBM’s social and environmental management system requirement for all its suppliers

In 2010, IBM instituted a requirement that all first-tier suppliers establish a management system to address their social and environmental responsibilities. Our objective in establishing this requirement was to help our suppliers build their own capability to succeed in this area.

These suppliers are required to:

More information on these new supplier requirements may be found on IBM’s Supply Chain Environmental Responsibility website.