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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Green Manufacturing > Manufacturing Management > Supply Chain for Green Manufacturing

IBM Broadens Green IT in its Supply Chain

Green IT includes the potential of reducing energy use by 10% or more; can drive internal competition for high performance; can address customers' pressing initiatives; can help prioritize financial choices, and find new market openings with focused innovation. IBM is one of the leaders in green IT. Here's their strategy beyond 2010.

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Andrew Winston provides an in-depth look at how IBM is deepening and broadening their "green IT" policies at home and across their supply chain.

IBM brings a new value chain — electronics and IT — to the greening of the supply chain discussion and thus broadens the movement. Other electronics companies are also pressuring suppliers. The Electronics Industry Code of Conduct (EICC) for suppliers was adopted in 2004, and members now include Apple, Cisco, Dell, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Sony, Xerox, and many more.

Green IT Supplier Standards

But IBM is helping expand the definition of a green IT supplier by upping their green practices demands for their 28,000 first tier suppliers.

Wayne Balta, IBM's VP of corporate environmental affairs and product safety described IBM's work as "just the latest step in a long-standing continuum."

  1. 1998, IBM asked suppliers to consider adopting the international green operating standards, ISO 14000.

  2. 2004, the company launched its own IBM Supplier Conduct Principles, which helped define the EICC standards.

But the new IBM announcement turn prior "requests" into more of a mandate, and that's at the core of the new green IT standards. IBM is telling suppliers they must:

  1. Define and deploy an environmental management systems (EMS).
  2. Measure existing environmental impacts and establish goals to improve performance.
  3. Publicly disclose their metrics and results.
  4. "Cascade" these requirements to any suppliers that are material to IBM's products.

The mandate for deploying an EMS helps suppliers build IBM's own capacity to manage environmental issues. But most of the biggest suppliers already have some EMS in place, and that means they will have some metrics already.

That makes the third and fourth elements even more important. These demands differentiate IBM's program from most of what's come before. They give heft to the requirements and expand their influence.

Transparency and Data Disclosure

The third element makes companies publicly disclose their data — they don't just need to report their information to IBM; they need to make it clear for all to see.

Transparency is a very powerful tool, and the new openness will benefit every customer of these suppliers. It will encourage improved performance like no other incentive.

The fourth component, "cascading," means that IBM's requirements will ripple up the supply chain.

IBM execs know that the green path is a profitable one, so they're pushing suppliers to operate leaner, better, and smarter.

Andrew Winston has recently written "GREEN RECOVERY" Your Company's Green Guide to Surviving the Recession–and Thriving in the Upturn. Also available is his very popular book, "Green to Gold".

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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