Walmart Project Gigaton: Helping Suppliers to Cut Emissions

Walmart has been following a programme called Project Gigaton to work with its suppliers to achieve a billion metric tonnes of emissions cuts

Walmart announced Project Gigaton in 2017 with the intention of working with its suppliers to reduce, avoid or sequester 1 gigaton (1 billion metric tons) of greenhouse gas emissions in product value chains by 2030.

The project involved collaborating with its procurement eco-system across various projects in areas such as energy efficiency, packaging redesign, food waste reduction and logistics. The success of the programme means Walmart has achieved the ambition ahead of schedule.  

“I am thrilled to announce that our suppliers have now reported projects that are expected to exceed that 1 billion metric ton mark — helping us reach our goal six years early,” says Kathleen McLaughlin, Executive Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Walmart.

Kathleen McLaughlin, Executive Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Walmart.

Why has Project Gigaton been such a success?  

McLaughlin identifies six key factors for achieving the goal:

  • Science based goals and actions.   Walmart worked alongside scientists and value chain experts to work alongside its suppliers.  This advice included how to estimate emissions, set a pace for reductions, identify ways to lower emissions and provide resources to build supplier capability in emissions reduction and measurement. 
  • Customer and supplier benefits. McLaughlin recognises the link between positive sustainability steps and a positive customer and business impact.      
  • Immediate and sustained action.  The announcement of the programme prompted Walmart’s suppliers to make concrete goals for emissions reduction.
  • Ease for suppliers.  The programme was designed to work around the readiness and capacity of different kinds of suppliers and procurement partners.  Walmart provided a range of support options, including best-practice sharing summits, and digital tools.  
  • Continuous improvement.  Each year through the programme Walmart worked with suppliers to raise performance thresholds of excellence to maintain progress.  
  • Industry-wide innovation.  The project is one of the largest in the private sector, with over 5900 of Walmart’s suppliers signed up.  This has encouraged a wide range of procurement partners to accelerate their sustainability agendas.

The future of Walmart’s Project Gigaton

Although Walmart has reached its initial target, the programme will continue with the aim of improving and expanding the strategy.  

“We are enhancing estimates of our Scope 3 footprint, informed by emerging greenhouse gas standards and guidance,” says McLaughlin. 

“We are assessing which elements of our Scope 3 footprint are addressable and which elements are largely outside our control, which reductions can be achieved through low cost interventions and which ones are expensive or not feasible through today’s technology. Such assessments will inform key actions and priorities for research into new ways to mitigate emissions, as well as our Scope 3 footprint targets. And we’ll continue to work with our suppliers on real initiatives with real-world impacts that make our products better and our business stronger while continuing to enhance how we support our suppliers on goal setting, learning, solutions and estimating emissions.”

“We hope Project Gigaton will continue to set the standard for corporate climate action — because a more sustainable supply chain is a more resilient one. A more resilient supply chain isn’t just better for our business, it’s better for people, communities and the planet,” adds McLaughlin.  

Read more about how Walmart uses AI to stay on top of inventory during the busy holiday season.  

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