Walmart to cut one billion tonnes of supply chain emissions by 2030

The world's largest retailer has launched a sustainability platform which aims to slash one billion tonnes of emissions from its supply chain by 2030, as the company's latest CSR report reveals that 40 million tonnes of CO2 emissions have been avoided in the past decade.

Walmart’s Project Gigaton initiative will provide an emissions reduction toolkit to Walmart’s supplier network to reduce the carbon impact of areas such as manufacturing, materials and use of products.

The pledge to eliminate one billion tonnes of emissions is equivalent to taking more than 211 million passenger vehicles off US roads for a year, and is more than the annual emissions of Germany.

“We are proud of the improvements we’ve made in reducing our own emissions, but we aim to do more,” said Walmart’s chief sustainability officer Kathleen McLaughlin. “That’s why we’re working with our suppliers and others on Project Gigaton.”

The project will enlist the support of NGOs including WWF to create the emissions reduction toolkit, which will highlight the business case for suppliers to join the cause.

WWF president Carter Roberts said: “Project Gigaton is a testament to the transformative impact that leaders of industry can have on our greatest common challenges.

“As more companies follow in the footsteps of Walmart and their suppliers, we can achieve the critical mass needed to address climate change. Today’s commitment represents an important step toward a safer and more prosperous future.”

Transformed systems

Walmart was the first retailer to adopt a science-based emissions reduction plan, with an aim to reduce its absolute scope one and two emissions by 18% by 2025. The retailer’s latest CSR report, published late last week, highlights a commitment to evolve the sustainability of Walmart’s operations.

By the end of the last financial year, approximately 26% of Walmart’s electricity needs globally were supplied by renewable sources, primarily solar energy, installed across more than 460 sites. This builds on an overarching target to power 50% of its operations with renewable energy by 2025.

To complement its solar installations, Walmart has formed a partnership with Tesla to develop energy storage systems, in order to balance energy generation at numerous Southern California stores.

“Our aim today is to keep using our strengths in collaboration with others to transform the systems we rely on,” McLaughlin added. “We believe that the value-maximising strategy is the one that creates shared value – value for customers, business and society.”

Waste not, want not

Walmart has also made progress towards a zero-waste goal in its operations, diverting 82% of materials from landfill across the US in the last year. The CSR report reveals that Walmart’s UK retail brand Asda reused over 1.25 million trays last year, keeping them in the network and eliminating the need for cardboard packaging.

Meanwhile, Walmart’s food waste reduction efforts has seen more than 3.3 billion pounds of food donated since 2005. Walmart works in partnership with non-profit Feed America, which last week launched a new technology platform that simplifies food donation, to coincide with Earth Day 2017. MealConnect allows food businesses of all sizes to post surplus food on the platform. An algorithm then determines the best-suited local pantry or food programme to quickly pick up and distribute the donation.

Commenting on the platform launch, Walmart’s sustainability director Karrie Denniston said: “We made the investment in MealConnect because we saw an opportunity to strengthen capacity for the organization and its network of food banks. This platform is a prime example of how innovative technology is being used to improve food recovery and address hunger.”

George Ogleby

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