Walmart Suppliers Lead the Charge, Help Deliver Project Gigaton Goal More Than Six Years Early - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions  -  March 1, 2024 - By Kathleen McLaughlin, Walmart

Walmart Suppliers Lead the Charge, Help Deliver Project Gigaton Goal More Than Six Years Early

Walmart's Project Gigaton called for the retailer's suppliers to reduce, avoid or sequester 1 gigaton — that’s 1 billion metric tons — of GHG emissions in product value chains by 2030. In this column, Executive Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer Kathleen McLaughlin explains how this goal was reached six years early.

Several factors were important for achieving this goal: 

  • Science-based goals and actions. From the beginning and throughout, we looked to scientists and product value chain experts, including World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), World Resources Institute (WRI) and CDP, for advice on 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. Walmart was the first retailer to set a target for emissions reduction approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative.
  • Customer and supplier benefits. The fact that our suppliers achieved such an ambitious goal so early is a testament to the positive customer and supplier business impact of innovative climate action. So often, the projects that reduce emissions are also the projects that enhance resilience, reduce cost, improve quality and create innovative new products for our customers.
  • Immediate and sustained action. When we launched Project Gigaton in 2017, we designed the initiative to catalyze immediate, significant and sustained action. From the beginning, we asked our suppliers to set concrete goals for emissions reduction based on science-based, practical projects focused on the most relevant sources of emissions in their product value chains, such as energy use or agricultural practices.
  • Ease for suppliers. We designed the program to accommodate suppliers who vary in their readiness and capability of undertaking intensive GHG reduction efforts – from small single-category suppliers to multicategory ones. We have provided a wide range of support to build confidence and capability in mitigating emissions, from goal-setting to action to reporting. For example, we held best-practice sharing summits, built resources such as the Circular Connector and Factory Energy Efficiency tools, and developed programs such as Gigaton PPA to extend renewable energy procurement for suppliers.
  • Continuous improvement. Every year we reengage suppliers and we repeatedly raise the bar for achieving what we call “Giga Guru” status – excellence in target setting, action and results. For example, we recently asked suppliers to begin reporting their complete operational emissions footprint to Walmart, in addition to setting targets and reporting results of emissions improvement projects.
  • Industry-wide innovation. To date, Project Gigaton is one of the largest private sector consortia of its kind with over 5,900 of our suppliers signed up since launching in 2017. And in FY23, reporting suppliers represented approximately 75% of U.S. product net sales dollars. By engaging and supporting thousands of suppliers who span product categories and regions around the world, we aim to spark innovation in practices and infrastructure that can accelerate and expand emissions reduction and avoidance across the industry.

The Way Forward
Although we have achieved our 1 gigaton goal, we will continue Project Gigaton — because as a society we have a long way to go. Building a net zero emissions future will require a massive transition in our world’s energy and transport systems, materials and infrastructure. At Walmart we like to spend a minute celebrating success and then get on with doing something even better. So we are working to improve and expand Project Gigaton for the benefit of our customers, suppliers and the planet while staying the course toward our goal of zero operational emissions — Scopes 1 and 2 — by 2040. 

For example, we are enhancing estimates of our Scope 3 footprint, informed by emerging greenhouse gas standards and guidance. 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 are also considering how we can engage customers in lowering emissions in ways that will help them save money and live better.

 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.


This column originally appeared on Walmart's website.

Kathleen McLaughlin is Executive Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Walmart Inc.; President, Walmart Foundation.  She is Kathleen is responsible for programs that help Walmart create opportunity through jobs and sourcing; advance the sustainability of supply chains; foster diversity, equity and inclusion; and build inclusive and resilient communities.

Through business initiatives and philanthropy, her teams work with Walmart associates, suppliers, nonprofit organizations and others to drive significant and lasting improvements to economic, social and environmental systems. These efforts are making significant progress on multiple fronts, including engaging more than 5,200 suppliers in Project Gigaton™ – an initiative created in 2017 aimed at engaging suppliers in climate action, along with NGOs and other stakeholders to reduce or avoid one billion metric tons (a gigaton) of greenhouse gases from the global value chain by 2030.


« Back to Energy Management

  • LinkedIn
  • Subscribe

Smart Energy Decisions Content Partners