How Walmart is slashing emissions by a gigaton

Walmart produce customer

From seed to produce aisle, Walmart's Project Gigaton focuses on the supply chain to avoid emissions.

Credit: Walmart

Walmart’s goal to avoid a gigaton of emissions – one billion tons – by 2030 aims at its greatest source of greenhouse gases: its supply chain.

With guidance from EDF, the company is targeting the areas that will drive the most change across its global network of suppliers.

Supply chains present an opportunity

The modern supply chain is responsible for 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, 80 percent of water use and 66 percent of tropical deforestation.

With the global population set to swell to 9.5 billion consumers by 2050, there’s both an opportunity for businesses and a need to protect the environment.

Aiming for sustainability is motivated by competitiveness, innovation, job creation and consumer demand.

Fred Krupp
Fred Krupp, President

As the Trump administration pulls back on federal climate action, U.S. businesses are becoming leaders in the fight for a cleaner, safer world – while strengthening profits.

Walmart is at the forefront with its Project Gigaton, potentially engaging more than 100,000 suppliers in commitments to avoid emissions.

5 areas with the greatest potential

Project Gigaton builds on a 13-year partnership between Walmart and EDF that has explored various ways to upgrade the supply chain.

From joint efforts with Midwestern crop advisers to partnerships with major Walmart suppliers such as Campbell Soup Company and Smithfield Foods, EDF is helping Walmart focus Project Gigaton on five areas that hold the potential for the largest emissions reductions.

1. Agriculture

farm

Why: Fertilizer escapes into the air as nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas.

Action: EDF’s science-based strategies show farmers the path to more efficient fertilizer use on more than 20 million acres of cropland.

2. Product design and use

laptop and smartphone

Why: Global production and use of consumer products accounts for 60 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.

Action: EDF experts are mapping the most cost-effective practices product-makers can use today to reduce the effects of their products on the environment.

3. Food waste

rotten watermelons

Why: Every year, 10 million tons of food is discarded or remains unharvested on U.S. farms.

Action: EDF has developed resources to help farmers reduce on-farm food waste. Our study of waste on the farms of some of Walmart’s biggest suppliers will inform the company’s policy.

4. Freight

Walmart truck

Why: Freight accounts for 16 percent of U.S. corporate greenhouse gas emissions.

Action: EDF is helping steer businesses toward cleaner, leaner distribution through streamlined networks, cleaner fuels and switching from road to rail.

5. Deforestation

deforestation

Why: Avoiding a quarter of annual global deforestation would prevent a gigaton of carbon dioxide emissions.

Action: EDF is exploring how businesses that buy beef and soy from Brazil can work together and call on governments to help achieve a goal of zero net emissions from the Amazon by 2020.

How business can rethink supply chains

If you run a business, you don’t need the buying power of Walmart to get results. But you do need allies.

Project Gigaton works because Walmart collaborates with nonprofits such as EDF, other partners and an extensive network of suppliers to drive reductions.

Built on 25-plus years of collaborating with companies, our Supply Chain Solutions Center helps businesses figure out which partnerships make sense and how to build a plan. Questions to get started:

  • What are the sources of emissions?
  • What actions can drive down emissions and at what cost?
  • How should companies prioritize those actions?

Goals need to be realistic and rooted in science, and there must be a reliable way to measure the environmental and business impacts.

Our advice to companies: Pay attention to Walmart’s efforts, see how they can apply to your own sustainability plans and help transform how we get goods to market – so both business and the environment thrive.

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