International Business Machines Corporation, or IBM has a long history of dealing with its environmental problems. It established a corporate policy on environmental protection in 1971, with the support of a comprehensive global environmental management system. According to IBM’s stats, its total hazardous waste decreased by 44 percent over the past five years, and has decreased by 94.6 percent since 1987. IBM's total hazardous waste calculation consists of waste from both non-manufacturing and manufacturing operations. Waste from manufacturing operations includes waste recycled in closed-loop systems where process chemicals are recovered and for subsequent reuse, rather than just disposing and using new chemical materials. Over the years, IBM has redesigned processes to eliminate almost all closed loop recycling and now uses more environmental-friendly materials in their place.
IBM was recognized as one of the "Top 20 Best Workplaces for Commuters" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2005. This was to recognize the Fortune 500 companies that provided their employees with excellent commuter benefits that helped reduce traffic and air pollution.
However, the birthplace of IBM, Endicott, suffered IBM's pollution for decades. IBM used liquid cleaning agents in its circuit board assembly operation for more than two decades, and six spills and leaks incidents were recorded, including one recorded 1979 leak of 4,100 gallons from an underground tank. These left behind volatile organic compounds in the town's soil and aquifer. Trace elements of volatile organic compounds have been identified in the Endicott’s drinking water, but the levels are within regulatory limits. Also, from 1980, IBM has pumped out 78,000 gallons of chemicals, including trichloroethane, Freon, benzene and perchloroethene to the air and allegedly caused several cancer cases among the villagers. IBM Endicott has been identified by the Department of Environmental Conservation as the major source of pollution, though traces of contaminants from a local dry cleaner and other polluters were also found.
Despite the amount of pollutant, state health officials cannot say whether air or water pollution in Endicott has actually caused any health problems. Village officials say tests show that the water is safe to drink.