IBM Service Helps Make Supply Chains Green

IBM's new Sustainable Procurement consulting service helps businesses and government agencies develop guidelines for their suppliers to ensure that they meet standards around such areas as the environment, labor practices and safety. The IBM service also will help businesses design ways to ensure that suppliers are in compliance with the guidelines. IBM officials say such guidelines are crucial in a global environment where businesses may have thousands of suppliers throughout the world.

IBM is offering a service that is designed to help businesses and government agencies ensure that their suppliers are green and ethical.

The IBM Sustainable Procurement consulting service, announced April 9, will work with customers to develop guidelines for suppliers on everything from environmental friendliness to labor practices to safety. It will touch on supplies, materials, ingredients, components, finished goods and services bought by the businesses, according to IBM officials.

The service also will help businesses develop ways to measure supplier compliance with those guidelines.

IBM officials said having such guidelines in place can help businesses not only be environmentally friendly, but also more efficient.

"Driving sustainability practices through a global supply chain provides the biggest opportunity for companies and government agencies to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact on a large scale," Eric Riddleberger, IBM's business strategy consulting global leader, said in a statement. "It creates a domino effect, helping all supply chain partners become greener, more efficient and economical, and improving their contributions to the communities and countries they operate in."

Riddleberger also heads up IBM's corporate social responsibility consulting efforts.

IBM officials said that with global supply chains that have thousands of suppliers around the world, issues can arrive around such issues as hazardous materials, unsafe working conditions and poor components. Having comprehensive guidelines can reduce those problems, IBM officials said.

Greenhouse gas emissions are an example, they said. IBM estimated that 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions related to the supply chain come from operations out of the business. Having guidelines, and ways to monitor compliance, can reduce those emissions.

IBM officials said being more responsible can also be good for business, enabling a company to differentiate itself from competitors and expand its operations into new markets.

IBM officials said the company has established its own set of guidelines-the IBM Supplier Conduct Principles-for its supply chain, which includes more than 30,000 supplier locations in more than 60 countries.

The IBM Sustainable Procurement service covers six primary areas, including the environment and community-ensuring suppliers contribute to their local areas. Other areas include health and safety, ethics and financial accountability, diversity, and labor practices.