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Walmart’s Project Gigaton focuses on major supply chain greenhouse gas emissions reduction effort

Taking steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from its supply chain, retail giant Walmart recently announced it has rolled out an initiative, entitled Project Gigaton, which is geared towards helping… By Jeff Berman

Taking steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from its supply chain, retail giant Walmart recently announced it has rolled out an initiative, entitled Project Gigaton, which is geared towards helping the company achieve its goal of eliminating 1 gigaton, or 1 billion tons, of emissions from its supply chain by 2030.

This follows a November 2016 announcement Walmart made in which it rolled out goals specific for their own operations and fleets focused on an 18% reduction in GHG emissions between 2015-2015.

A key component of Project Gigaton focuses on Walmart working with suppliers to achieve the reduction of 1 billion GHG emissions stemming from its operations and supply chains, with the help of what it calls a sustainability platform. This platform functions as a toolkit for a broad network of Walmart suppliers, with a focus on manufacturing, materials and use of products by 2030, which Walmart said is the equivalent of taking more than 211 million passenger vehicles off United States roads and highways for a year.

Walmart said it has banded together with non-governmental organizations, including World Wildlife Fund and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), among others, in creating the emissions reduction toolkit, which makes the business case for why shippers should consider becoming part of the Project Gigaton project.  

“Through the years, we’ve seen that integrating sustainable practices into our operations improves business performance, spurs technological innovation, inspires brand loyalty, and boosts employee engagement,” said Laura Phillips, senior vice president, Sustainability for Walmart, in a statement. “Our suppliers recognize the opportunity to realize those same benefits in their businesses. By working together on such an ambitious goal, we can accelerate progress within our respective companies and deep in our shared supply chains.”

One of the main drivers for Project Gigaton runs in tandem with an analysis from the Environmental Defense Fund on the relative impact of supply chain-based emissions compared to direct emissions, with a major takeaway being that 80% of the emissions associated with U.S. retail and consumer goods industry is in the supply chain, with Walmart and other retailers accounting for around 80% of those emissions. And it added that 8-9% of the heavy impact associated with supply chain emissions comes from over the road supply chain functions like trucks and trains.

“The vast majority of the impact is in the supply chain, which is why what Walmart is doing is so important and focusing on the biggest challenge,” said Jason Mathers,  Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Senior Manager, Supply Chain Logistics. “This is at par with the ambition we see true leaders do these days.”

Mathers added that Project Gigaton can be viewed as a leadership action by Walmart for setting out a new challenge for suppliers in a way that is recognizing the challenges being faced, coupled with the opportunity to work collectively in solving these emissions-related challenges.

“I appreciate that they accept this target and they have and are providing some tools and guidance for these companies for how to set targets and toolkits for how to achieve them,” said Mathers. “One of the ways EDF and other advocacy orgs can play a role here is by sharing best practices we have with consumer packaged goods and other vendors and suppliers to Walmart and help them understand where they can make progress today that reduces their impact and reduces and benefits the bottom line.”

About the author
Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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