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The environmental stewardship of IBM Power Systems

As information and communications technology products rapidly evolve, so do the environmental laws, regulations and client expectations for these products. The number and scope of requirements worldwide have grown extensively. Meanwhile, clients are also demonstrating an increased environmental awareness and want products with attributes such as energy efficiency and product take-back. Meeting all of these requirements is important and necessary for IBM and Power Systems* technology.

IBM’s strategic approach to design and produce Power Systems servers that comply with environmental laws and meet client expectations is defined in IBM’s Environmental Management System (EMS). The strategy, which is flexible and adaptable to new requirements, positions these servers to meet today’s environmental requirements and future demands.


IBM Systems and Technology Group (STG) designs and releases servers and storage products, including Power Systems architecture. The STG environmental design process uses an EMS as the framework for implementing environmental attributes. The EMS is aligned with ISO 14001 standards www.ibm.com/ibm/environment/iso14001. IBM earned a single global ISO 14001 certification in 1997 and continues to maintain the certification with the requisite product targets and goals, audits, processes and measurements.

The IBM EMS is based on critical core elements, including a policy detailing IBM’s commitment to environmental affairs leadership (www.ibm.com/ibm/environment/policy). Highlighted in the policy are the strategies and commitments to:

→Develop, manufacture and market products that are energy-efficient, safe for their intended use, protective of the environment, and can be reused, recycled or disposed of safely

→Use development and manufacturing processes that do not adversely affect the environment

→Meet or exceed the government regulations and voluntary requirements to which IBM subscribes

→Continual improvement

→Conduct rigorous audits and self-assessments

Under the global IBM EMS is the STG EMS. This framework provides an organizational structure with defined roles, responsibilities and goals toward achieving the necessary results to deliver compliant products and environmental leadership. Figure 1 (page 46) provides an overview of the EMS structure with supporting roles and responsibilities.

The EMS is supported by a well-organized infrastructure, effective processes, documentation and robust IT databases. Within STG is the Product Environmental Stewardship program, which focuses on environmental progress and compliance in product design, development and marketing. Development is a critical focal point for products’ environmental attributes. Design decisions can determine the type and quantity of material used, manufacturing processes and eventual end-of-life strategies for the product. Development determines product specifications, including design features such as material selection, paints, energy efficiency, and ease of repair and dismantling.

IBM’s Product Environmental Stewardship program www.ibm.com/ibm/environment/products includes these objectives:

→Develop products with consideration for their upgradeability to extend product life.

→Develop products with consideration for their reuse and recyclability at the end of product life.

→Develop products that can safely be disposed of at the end of product life.

→Develop and manufacture products using recycled materials when technically and economically justifiable.

→Develop products that will provide improvements in energy efficiency and/or reduced consumption of energy.

→Develop products that minimize resource use and environmental impacts through the selection of environmentally preferred mat-erials and finishes.

Power Systems Engineering Specifications

IBM Power Systems servers are designed and manufactured in accordance with two critical product environmental specifications. These specifications outline the requirements necessary for materials, parts and products delivered to IBM for incorporation within products.

The primary engineering specification is 46G3772, “Baseline Environmental Requirements for Supplier Deliverables to IBM” www.ibm.com/ibm/environment/products/especs.shtml. This specification outlines requirements in the following areas:

→Restricted substances based on worldwide legal and IBM requirements, such as substances of very high concern (SVHC) as identified by the European Union (EU) Regulation for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)

→Reportable substances, which generally have been identified by a jurisdiction as a candidate for potential regulation

→Coding thermoplastic resin parts for ease of material identification for recycling purposes

→Powder paint usage

→Product and part labeling on
requirements such as take-back, recycling and disposal

→Client information

→Energy efficiency requirements, testing, labeling and certifications

The second engineering specification focuses on requirements for the EU directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances (RoHS) in electrical and electronic equipment. This RoHS specification details the requirements as they relate to IBM products. Substances restricted by the directive at this time are lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated biphenyl ethers.

Suppliers certify parts meet the specifications through a material declaration form called the product content declaration (www.ibm.com/ibm/environment/products/ecpquest.shtml). IBM’s website provides information for suppliers, including environmental specifications for products and PCDs. Figure 2 (page 48) outlines IBM's data-gathering and validation process for product environmental compliance.


Debbie Horn is a senior engineer and technical team lead for product environmental stewardship in IBM Systems and Technology Group.

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