Walmart’s Project Gigaton: Surpasses Supply Chain Emissions Reduction Goal

Recently, during an earnings call in February, Walmart declared that Project Gigaton (Walmart’s project to revolutionize the supply chain to be more sustainable) had reached its goal six years ahead of schedule, with over 5,900 suppliers participating, responsible for approximately 75% of Walmart’s sales.

Walmart embarked on Project Gigaton in 2017 with the aim of eliminating one gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain by 2030.

Under this project, Walmart partnered with organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and focused on leveraging its extensive supplier network to drive emissions reductions. As upwards of 90% of retailers’ emissions are from sources outside a company’s direct control (like its supply chain), according to the National Retail Federation, suppliers were a natural place to focus.

Recognizing these sources of emissions, Walmart targeted its vast supplier base to effect substantial change.

Initially, the company set a goal to have its suppliers prevent 20 million metric tons of emissions from being released. After achieving that goal, it set its sights 50 times bigger: one gigaton.

Project Gigaton works by encouraging suppliers to reduce emissions across six key areas: nature, energy use, product design and usage, packaging, transport, and waste. To ensure accuracy and effectiveness, Walmart employs a rigorous quality assurance process for supplier data, recognizing those who meet criteria on its website.

With suppliers ranging from industry giants to smaller entities, Walmart offers various pathways for participation, tailoring approaches based on supplier size and expertise. The initiative includes educational resources, events, and even financial incentives for sustainable investments.

In FY 2023, more than 750 suppliers earned “Sparking Change” status, and more than 1,100 received “Giga Guru.”

Walmart’s considerable market influence prompts many suppliers to join, recognizing the importance of aligning with Walmart’s sustainability initiatives.

Participating suppliers have not only realized environmental benefits but also cost savings and regulatory preparedness.

Key to Walmart’s success in achieving Project Gigaton’s goal ahead of schedule is its top-down commitment and employee engagement. Walmart fosters a culture of passion for sustainability from its leadership to all employees, driving progress through annual milestone meetings and divisional announcements.

Even for companies without Walmart’s scale, the lessons from Project Gigaton are invaluable. Understanding the most impactful areas for emissions reduction and listening to supplier feedback are essential strategies for driving progress in supply chain sustainability.

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