Skip to main content

IBM Environment

inside and out

From the way we run our operations, to the products and solutions we sell, to the management of our supplier relationships, IBM leverages its expertise, global reach, innovation and technology in our dedication to protecting the environment.


The company’s environmental policy, established in 1971, embeds IBM’s commitment to environmental leadership across all of its business activities. This report provides an overview of IBM’s programs and performance in four key areas:

  1. Energy conservation and climate protection
  2. Process stewardship
  3. Product stewardship
  4. Supply chain management

These areas were selected through an analysis of external stakeholder interests. IBM’s performance against its goals in other environmental program areas may be found at the back of this report.

More comprehensive information on all of IBM’s environmental programs may be found in the 2009 “IBM and the Environment” report, the 20th consecutive voluntary annual environmental report IBM has published.

5.1 billion

kWh of electricity was saved as a result of IBM’s annual energy conservation projects between 1990 and 2009.

3.4 million

metric tons of CO2 emissions were avoided as a result, an amount equal to:


of IBM’s 1990 global CO2 emissions, which translates into:

$ 370 million

in energy expense savings.


Energy Conservation
and Climate Protection

IBM’s strategic approach to meeting its energy and climate commitments addresses both its operations and its products, services and solutions.

To reduce its operational greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), IBM’s strategy includes:
- Conserving its use of energy to minimize GHG emissions;
- Reducing employee commuting and business travel;
- Minimizing the use and emissions of perfluorocompounds (PFCs—a family of GHGs) in semiconductor manufacturing;
- Increasing the efficiency of IBM’s logistics operations;
- Purchasing electricity generated from low CO2-emitting and renewable energy-generating sources where feasible;

To maximize the efficiency of its products, services and solutions, IBM’s strategy includes:
- Providing clients with services and solutions that increase energy efficiency and help protect the climate;
- Designing energy efficient products;

A Long-Standing Commitment

IBM’s decades-long leadership in energy conservation and climate protection has been defined by its:

  • Global commitment
  • Comprehensive and multifaceted programs—covering the company’s operations, products and services
  • Leading-edge innovations and client solutions
  • Significant results, both early and ongoing, benefiting IBM, its clients and the world

Key Performance Indicator

Energy Conservation
2009 Savings as Percentage
of Total Energy Use: Goal 3.5%, Performance 5.4%

Goal: Achieve annual energy conservation savings equal to 3.5 percent of IBM’s total energy use.

Results: In 2009, IBM’s energy conservation projects across the company delivered savings equal to 5.4 percent of its total energy use. (Associated energy cost savings: $26.8 million)

Additional corporate responsibility performance metrics are available on our Performance Data Summary page.

Energy conservation: In 2009, IBM’s energy conservation initiatives across the company delivered savings equal to 5.4 percent of its total energy use exceeding the corporate goal of 3.5 percent. These projects avoided the consumption of over 246,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity and over 410,000 million BTUs of fuel oil, representing the avoidance of over 142,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions. The conservation projects also saved $26.8 million in energy expense.

IBM is leveraging its wide range of technologies and solutions to make its extensive data center operations ever more energy efficient. Several examples:

  • –  Extending leading-edge analytics such as our real-time thermal monitoring system, called Measurement and Management Technology 1.5, across our data center portfolio to identify areas for improvement and accelerate energy reduction results;
  • –  Expanding virtualization and consolidation projects across our data center portfolio;
  • –  Implementing a new business strategy and processes to minimize back-up IT equipment energy use without compromising quality and service commitments to clients;
  • –  Improving IT equipment energy efficiency by continually adapting hardware and software power management capabilities.

To provide additional opportunity in its leased space, IBM, along with DuPont, Fluor Corporation, Pitney Bowes Inc. and the Switzer Group, have formed a coalition to drive an increase in the availability of competitively priced leased space in multi-tenant buildings that also provides energy efficiency and other environmental attributes. By joining together, the coalition hopes to make more environmentally sustainable leased spaces increasingly the standard rather than the exception in the marketplace.

PFC emissions reduction: IBM uses some perfluorocompounds (PFCs) in its semiconductor manufacturing operations and was the first semiconductor manufacturer to set a numeric reduction target for PFCs in 1998. The company’s goal is to reduce PFC emissions from semiconductor manufacturing 25 percent by 2010 against a base year of 1995. As of year-end 2009, IBM’s PFC emissions were 48.8 percent below the 1995 baseline amount of 381,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. A significant factor in the reduction from 2008 was the reduced manufacturing volumes for much of 2009.

Key Performance Indicator

PFC Emissions Reduction
In C02 Equivalent
1995: 381,000 Reduction Goal by 2010: 25%
2009: 195,200 Actual Reduction 48.8%

Goal: Reduce PFC emissions from semiconductor manufacturing 25 percent by year-end 2010 against a base year of 1995.

Results: As of year-end 2009, IBM’s emissions were 48.8 percent below the 1995 baseline amount of 381,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent.

Additional corporate responsibility performance metrics are available on our Performance Data Summary page.

CO2 emissions reduction: While some companies have only more recently begun to address their CO2 emissions, CO2 emissions reduction has been a priority at IBM since the early 1990s. Between 1990 and 2005, IBM’s energy conservation actions had reduced or avoided CO2 emissions by an amount equal to 40 percent of its 1990 emissions. To further extend this achievement, IBM set itself an aggressive “second-generation” goal: to reduce the CO2 emissions associated with IBM’s energy use 12 percent between 2005 and year-end 2012 through energy conservation and the procurement of renewable energy.

IBM’s 2009 CO2 emissions were 2.6 percent below its 2008 emissions, and 5.7 percent below its adjusted 2005 baseline. While this is solid progress against its goal, IBM is continuing its disciplined, global energy management processes and metrics, and is aggressively identifying additional initiatives to further reduce energy demand and increase the purchase of renewable energy toward achieving this goal.

Procuring and fostering renewable energy: IBM continues to procure renewable energy for its own use and to invest in IT-related research and development to increase the availability and affordability of renewable energy.

In 2009, IBM purchased 560 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable energy, an increase of over 100 million kWh compared to 2008. The 2009 purchases represented 11.3 percent of the company’s 2009 global electricity use.

In February 2010, IBM announced it had built a solar cell in which the key layer that absorbs most of the light for conversion into electricity is made entirely of readily available elements and manufactured using a combination of solution and nanoparticle-based approaches, rather than the popular but expensive vacuum-based technique. This solar cell set a new world record for efficiency and holds the potential for producing low-cost energy that can be used widely and commercially.

Another example of IBM’s research into solar technologies also focuses on water availability. IBM and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Saudi Arabia’s national research and development organization, are collaborating on a research project aimed at creating a water desalination plant powered by solar electricity, which could significantly reduce water and energy costs.

A new, energy efficient desalination plant with an expected production capacity of 30,000 cubic meters per day will be powered with the ultra-high concentrator photovoltaic technology that is being jointly developed by IBM and KACST. Inside the plant, the desalination process will hinge on another IBM-KACST jointly developed technology, a nanomembrane that filters out salts as well as potentially harmful toxins in water while using less energy than other forms of water purification.

Key Performance Indicator

CO2 Emissions Reduction
Metric Tons x 1,000
2005*: 2,543 Second Generation Reduction Goal by 2012: 12%
2009: 2,436 Decrease from 2005 Base Year: 5.7%
*2005 emissions baseline adjusted for acquisitions and divestitures of operations.

Goal: Between 1990 and 2005, IBM reduced or avoided CO2 emissions by an amount equivalent to 40 percent of its 1990 emissions through its global energy conservation program. IBM’s new goal is to further extend this achievement by reducing CO2 emissions associated with IBM’s energy use 12 percent between 2005 and 2012 through energy conservation and the procurement of renewable energy.

Results: At year-end 2009, IBM had reduced its energy-related CO2 emissions 5.7 percent from the 2005 base year of its goal.

Additional corporate responsibility performance metrics are available on our Performance Data Summary page.

Renewable Energy Procured

Percentage of Total Electricity

2001: 0.2%;
2009: 11.3%;

The procurement of renewable
energy is part of IBM’s CO2 Emissions
Reduction Goal.

IBM recognizes climate change as a serious concern that warrants meaningful action by all sectors of society, globally.

Advocating energy and climate solutions: IBM recognizes climate change as a serious concern that warrants meaningful action by all sectors of society, globally. To address this, the company leverages its expertise, technology, and global reach to design solutions and raise awareness across business and government about the many ways in which the world can be more energy efficient. Here are just a few examples:

Smarter Cities™: IBM is working with dozens of municipalities to improve the efficiency of urban systems, thereby saving energy and reducing CO2 and other air emissions.

Smarter Workforces: IBM’s digital collaboration tools are enabling employees to work together more productively while reducing the need for business-related travel.

Eco-Efficiency Jam: In 2010 IBM brought together 1,600 leaders from across the private, public and NGO sectors for a two-day online, interactive discussion of opportunities for continued advancement of eco-efficiency.

The Enterprise Data Center: This evolutionary model for efficient IT service delivery is enabling some IBM clients to reduce energy consumption of data centers by up to 40 percent and reduce floor space by as much as 80 percent.

Smart Grid: IBM is a founding member of The Global Intelligent Utility Network Coalition, a group of utility companies focused on adding digital intelligence to current systems to reduce outages and faults, manage demand, and integrate renewable energy sources.


Process Stewardship

IBM’s environmental policy calls for the company to use development and manufacturing processes that are protective of the environment. The company has a long history of proactively evaluating the chemicals used in its processes and products; identifying potential substitutes that may have less impact on the environment, health and safety; and eliminating, restricting and/or prohibiting the use of substances for which a more preferable alternative is available that is capable of meeting performance, quality and safety requirements of its processes and products. Two recent examples:

Elimination of PFOS and PFOA—an industry first: As of January 31, 2010, IBM eliminated all known uses of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) from its microprocessor manufacturing processes, becoming the first in the industry to announce elimination of these two compounds.

IBM began its work to eliminate these substances from its manufacturing nearly a decade ago, when research showed that they can build up in the environment and gradually increase in concentration over time. These compounds remain permitted for use in semiconductor manufacturing, but a few years ago some governments began restricting their use in consumer products, where they were commonly used as a stain or water repellent.

Within IBM, small amounts of these substances had been used in key steps of its microprocessor manufacturing.

Developing alternatives for these chemicals was an ambitious technological challenge and required the work of hundreds of IBM scientists, engineers, partners and suppliers. 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.

Fluorine-free photoacid generator innovation: In another industry first, IBM Research recently announced its invention of a new type of fluorine-free photoacid generator for the production of semiconductors using 193-nanometer lithography. The photoacid generator is one of several components of a system of chemicals used in the photolithography process to transfer circuit patterns onto semiconductor wafers.

IBM’s solution, on which it holds several patents, is an example of “green chemistry” in action—applying molecular design to invent new, more environmentally benign compounds. IBM researchers have demonstrated that the new chemicals meet the performance requirements and the company is in discussions with a number of chemical suppliers regarding their possible production.

IBM’s POWER7™ chips

IBM’s POWER7™ chips

are manufactured on round 300mm wafers, roughly the size of a small pizza, then diced into individual processors. IBM has eliminated the use of PFOS and PFOA in the manufacture of these and its other semiconductors, becoming the first in the industry to announce the elimination of these two compounds.

In 2003, IBM began the following staged phase out of PFOS/PFOA:

2005 Prohibition of PFOS and PFOA in
the development of new materials.
2007 Prohibition of their use in new
manufacturing, development and research processes.
2010 Elimination of all uses of PFOS
and PFOA—a goal IBM achieved
January 31, 2010.

Product Stewardship

IBM formalized its Product Stewardship program in 1991. It defines for IBM’s development organizations the direction and goals, infrastructure, tools and expertise to apply environmental life cycle considerations from product concept through product end-of-life management. The following provides information on recent advancements and performance in a few key areas. View more comprehensive information in the IBM and the Environment section.

Product and data center energy efficiency: Data centers are the backbone of information technology delivery for businesses, governments and other organizations. Though they power the information, processes, analytics and research needed for the world to operate and develop in a more sustainable manner, they do consume energy. IBM has first-hand experience of this—the company owns or operates more than 450 data centers around the world. IBM devotes significant resources to developing products and services that can maximize the efficiency of data centers for itself and clients.

In February 2010, IBM opened its new data center in Raleigh, North Carolina. The center was designed to support new computer models to help clients from around the world operate smarter businesses, organizations and cities. The new data center reduces technology infrastructure costs and complexity for clients while improving quality and speeding the deployment of services—while using only half the energy required of a similar facility its size.

Earlier this year, IBM’s four-processor and UNIX-based Power® 750 Express and Power 755 enterprise servers became the first four-processor servers in the industry to be qualified to the U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR server requirements. These systems are able to deliver significantly more workload and support many more individual applications on a single server than comparable one- or two-processor ENERGY STAR systems. Powered by IBM’s innovative POWER7 processor, the servers deliver twice the performance of the previous POWER6®- based systems, are three to four times more efficient in their use of energy, and can deliver up to four times the virtualization capability. With their power management and virtualization capabilities, these two systems enable users to maximize the workload delivered for each kilowatt-hour of energy consumed, while reducing the energy, space and material inputs required to support data center operations.

Product packaging: IBM has focused on the environmental attributes of its protective product packaging since the late 1980s. Under this program, IBM packaging engineers design solutions that minimize packaging while providing necessary product protection, specify non-toxic materials and inks, and collaborate with suppliers to use recycled content and recyclable materials and promote reuse.

In 2009, IBM packaging engineers saved 1,346 metric tons of packaging material from the implementation of 60 projects worldwide. These projects delivered annual cost savings of $9.3 million. Some of the initiatives providing these results:

Following are some of the initiatives providing these results:

IBM developed 100-percent recycled thermoformed nestable cushions for various products across its server brands and retail store systems. When these products are shipped inbound, up to 10 times the typical quantity can be carried on a 40-foot truck. In addition, the 100-percent recycled polyethylene materials of which they are made are reusable. Using these cushions, in 2009 IBM reused an estimated 91 metric tons of polyethylene plastic and saved approximately $1.9 million in materials and transportation costs.

IBM’s packaging team implemented 22 packaging design projects with its suppliers that resulted in solutions that reduced packaging materials from incoming parts by 175 metric tons and saved $1.4 million in both materials and transportation. When these suppliers apply these design improvements across their business to other customers, the environmental and cost benefits can be far-reaching.

“Green” chemistry for increased recycling: Disposable plastic bottles are among the most vexing environmental challenges. While plastics are recyclable, the resulting materials are generally limited to “second-generation reuse” only. This means the materials made from recycled plastic bottles are later disposed of in landfills.

Building on research IBM has conducted to discover new materials and processes for thin polymeric films in semiconductor manufacturing, IBM Research and Stanford University scientists are pioneering the application of organocatalysis to green polymer chemistry. This new approach could lead to biodegradable materials made from renewable resources. It could also improve the recycling process, reversing the polymerization process to regenerate monomers in their original state, thereby increasing the opportunity for more “closed-loop” recycling and multiple-generation reuse of plastics.

IBM also is collaborating with scientists from King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology to develop the recycling process for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics, which is a common plastic used in containers for food, beverages and other liquids.

Product end-of-life management: As part of its product end-of-life management (PELM) program, IBM began offering product take-back programs in Europe in 1989 and has extended and enhanced them over the years. Today, IBM’s Global Asset Recovery Services organization offers Asset Recovery Solutions to commercial clients in countries where IBM does business.

In 2009, IBM’s PELM operations worldwide processed approximately 41,400 metric tons of end-of-life products and product waste. These PELM operations reused or recycled 95.8 percent of the total amount processed and sent only 0.5 percent to landfills or to incineration facilities for treatment, versus IBM’s corporate goal of minimizing its combined landfill and incineration rate to no more than 3 percent.

Key Performance Indicator

Recycled Plastics
2009 Percentage by Weight
Goal - 5%;
Performance - 13.2%

The recycled content of plastics used in IBM’s products can range from 25 to 100 percent by weight of the commercial resin. In 2009, 22.4 percent of the total weight of plastic resins procured by IBM and its suppliers through IBM’s corporate contracts for use in IBM’s products were commercial resins with such recycled content. Comparing only the weight of the recycled fraction of these commercial resins to the total weight of plastics (virgin and recycled) purchased through IBM’s corporate contracts in 2009, 13.2 percent of the total weight was recycled plastic versus the corporate goal of 5 percent recyclate.

Additional corporate responsibility performance metrics are available on our Performance Data Summary page.

1.7 billion pounds

Since 1995, when IBM first began reporting this metric in its annual environmental report, IBM has documented the collection and recovery of more than 1.7 billion pounds (770,553 metric tons) of product and product waste worldwide through year-end 2009.


Key Performance Indicator

Product End-of-Life
Management Operations

2009 Percentage by Weight

Goal: Reuse or recycle end-of-life products such that the amount of product waste sent by IBM to landfills or to incineration for treatment does not exceed a combined 3 percent of the total amount processed.

Results: In 2009, IBM’s product end-of-life management operations worldwide processed approximately 41,400 metric tons of end-of-life products and product waste, and sent only 0.5 percent of the total to landfills or to incineration facilities for treatment, versus IBM’s goal to minimize its combined product landfill use and incineration for treatment rate to no more than 3 percent.

Additional corporate responsibility performance metrics are available on our Performance Data Summary page.

Recycled: 54.3%, Resold for reuse: 32.1% Reused: 6.0%, In process3.8%, Waste to energy: 3.3%, Incineration: 0.3%, Landfill: 0.2%


Supply Chain Management

For decades, IBM has been committed to working with responsible suppliers. The company runs one of the largest, most complex supply chains in the world, spanning 28,000 suppliers in 90 countries. Below are a few examples of recent expansions in IBM’s supplier requirements.

Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) Supply Chain Project: Through the CDP’s Supply Chain program, IBM and other member companies are focused on how suppliers are addressing climate change and working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with their operations. As a participant in the program, IBM invited 121 of its major suppliers to respond to the CDP’s Supplier Questionnaire in 2009. When selecting the suppliers, we endeavored to cover approximately 80 percent of our expenditures with production-related suppliers and 30 percent of our spending with services and general procurement suppliers.

Of the 121 suppliers to which we sent the request, 88 suppliers responded to the questionnaire. This 73 percent response exceeded the 64 percent average response rate for the member companies in this program.

Findings from the responding suppliers:

Report Scope 1 GHG emissions: 75%
Report Scope 2 GHG emissions: 76%
Have a board committee or other body responsible for climate change: 61%
Have a GHG emissions or energy reduction target in place: 52%

New supply chain management system requirements: IBM continues to expand its environmental requirements and expectations for its supply chain. As further described in the Supply Chain section of this report, IBM’s suppliers are now expected to establish and maintain a management system under which they manage their intersections with the environment and other aspects of corporate responsibility.

One of IBM’s key objectives is to help suppliers build their own capacity to effectively manage their responsibilities in a way that is long-term, sustainable and integral to their routine business operations. IBM believes that by holding each supplier accountable for improving their individual performance and results, the entire supply chain will benefit, as will the world.

IBM has been committed to working with environmentally responsible suppliers for decades.

1972 Established a corporate directive requiring the environmental evaluation of suppliers of hazardous waste services.
1980 Expanded its environmental evaluations of suppliers by establishing a second corporate directive which required the environmental evaluation of certain production-related suppliers.
1991 Further expanded its environmental evaluations of suppliers, adding a requirement that its product recycling and product disposal suppliers be evaluated.
1998 Explicitly encouraged its suppliers to align their own environmental management systems with ISO 14001 and to pursue registration under this international standard.
2004 Published its Supplier Conduct Principles to articulate the company’s overall supply chain social and environmental requirements.
2008 Joined the CDP Supply Chain Project to encourage suppliers to understand and reduce the GHG emissions associated with their operations.
2010 Established new corporate responsibility and environmental management system requirements for IBM suppliers.
Next Section: Supply Chain