Walmart Expands Project Gigaton Into China, Urges Top Suppliers to Join

Project Gigaton China emissions suppliers
(Photo Credit: Paolo Mutti, Flickr Creative Commons)

Walmart expanded Project Gigaton this week into China with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the company’s value chain there by 50 million metric tons by 2030.

Project Gigaton, which launched in April 2017, is Walmart’s program with suppliers to reduce emissions from the company’s global value chain by one billion metric tons — a gigaton — by 2030.

“Walmart was the first retailer to set an emissions-reduction plan approved by the Science Based Targets initiative and Project Gigaton falls under this plan, in alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement,” the company says.

The new 50 MMT emissions reduction target in China is part of this goal. In order to achieve that, Walmart plans to enroll all of its export and domestic suppliers in China into an emissions reduction program, starting with 100 of the top suppliers.

In 2014, Walmart launched a Factory Energy Efficiency Program and collaborated with suppliers in China to increase energy efficiency. The goal was to have 70% of Walmart’s China-sourced export businesses participating in the program by the end of last year — a goal that was exceeded.

The company has enrolled more than 800 Chinese factories in that program, which helped the company cut costs by $40 million annually, Walmart’s China-based VP for global sourcing Bill Foudy told Reuters.

“It is often misunderstood that energy efficiency costs money, when we’ve found it to be the opposite,” he said.

Beyond energy efficiency, Walmart is investing in reducing the carbon intensity of operations in China on a per revenue basis. The aim is to lower the carbon intensity of stores, clubs, distribution centers, and other facilities by an additional 25% by 2025, 70% below 2005 levels. Globally, Walmart’s target is reducing emissions in company operations 18% by 2025.

Walmart says it can achieve this through continued operational efficiencies and sourcing renewable energy such as wind and solar. Reducing carbon intensity in China at the same time as the company expands will be the crux. This year alone, Walmart plans to open 30 to 40 new stores, including five Sam’s Clubs and a new supermarket format, in the country.

“When you have an absolute emissions reduction, you have to overcome new growth at the same time,” Walmart’s Joby Carlson told Environmental Leader last year. “Reducing the total emissions while you’re trying to grow means you have to do twice as much.”

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