Our partnership with Walmart brings big change

Walmart truck drives up a curved road in a scenic landscape.

EDF took heat when we started collaborating with Walmart in 2005.

The world’s largest retailer had its critics, and still does. But we shared a critical goal that shapes our relationship to this day — to drive sustainability globally, across industries.

Today, EDF’s partnership with Walmart offers a blueprint for how to drive retailer action, making products better for the environment and safer for you.

Our science meets Walmart’s scale

When Walmart set sustainability goals in 2005, we saw an opportunity to do something big.

We brought our expertise in science and economics to Walmart, and the company brought its size, influence and openness to innovate. 

Using science to set goals, track progress and deliver results we could measure, we focused on making the supply chain cleaner, more efficient and more profitable.

With our guidance, Walmart committed to removing a gigaton of emissions from its global supply chain by 2030.

The results? In February 2024, the company reported achieving the goal to reduce, avoid, or sequester a gigaton of emissions from its supply chain six years earlier than expected. That’s 1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, about equivalent to what Japan emits in a year.

EDF also worked closely with Walmart to develop a groundbreaking chemicals policy in 2013, as well as an update in 2017.

How EDF works with businesses to drive big change

Cutting a gigaton of emissions

Supply chains can account for 90% of a company’s footprint, and given their complexity, they’re often the biggest hurdle for corporate climate action.

That’s why Project Gigaton — Walmart’s push to cut emissions — was a game-changer. Walmart has the attention of 100,000 suppliers. And when the world’s biggest retailer asks, other companies listen.

Merchants and suppliers focused on energy efficiency, packaging redesign, food waste reduction and more to cut emissions at a massive scale.

EDF partnered with Walmart to help set the Project Gigaton goal, review the science, evaluate pathways for cutting emissions, and look at data from suppliers, working alongside World Wildlife Fund.

How we helped Walmart cut emissions with speed and scale

Spurring change across industries

Baby taking a bath
EDF and Walmart have inspired other companies to phase out chemicals of concern in various household and personal care products, such as shampoo.

Our work with Walmart has created ripple effects across industries.

In addition to Project Gigaton, one critical example involves a first-of-its-kind chemicals policy we helped Walmart create in 2013. The policy led to the phasing-out of eight chemicals of concern in more than 10,000 products sold by Walmart.

And it led to similar pledges from major manufacturers, such as Johnson & Johnson and Colgate-Palmolive.

Another example: To cut emissions from Walmart’s supply chain, we advised food and agriculture companies on how to work with farmers on more efficient nitrogen fertilizer management, which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically, save money and retain crop yields.

Multiple influential companies, including Campbell’s and Coca-Cola, committed to using fertilizer more efficiently, seeing Walmart’s success with EDF.

Transforming the supply chain

Project Gigaton could be improved, since it uses suppliers’ self-reported data, accounts for achieved, projected and avoided emissions, through 2030, and takes credit for all of a supplier’s emissions reductions that they report to Walmart.

But it’s notable for demonstrating how a single company can drive change throughout its supply chain.

To help other businesses make similar progress, EDF launched the Net Zero Action Accelerator, a hub with practical resources for advancing climate goals — including by engaging suppliers.

Today, nearly 1,000 of the largest global companies have set net zero goals — but the vast majority don’t have specific plans for meeting them yet. It’s time to turn climate ambition into action.

How EDF works with businesses to drive big change

Updated: June 5, 2024

Staff perspective

With EDF's help, Walmart is achieving significant reductions in toxic chemical use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Elizabeth Sturcken

Managing Director, EDF+Business