Will ‘Project Gigaton’ give Walmart a sustainable competitive edge?
Walmart is partnering with the Environmental Defense Fund on a green initiative called Project Gigaton, which will reduce a gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions from Walmart’s supply chain by 2030. While the program was announced in April, a joint commentary was published on CNBC this week (presumably in response to the U.S. government starting withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement), and explained the thinking behind this initiative and other environmental efforts.
Walmart believes it needs to be nimble, but also needs to stay the course on some long-term commitments, in spite of “shifting winds.” The program will result in an emissions reduction equivalent to taking 211 million cars off the road for a year.
Walmart began to embrace environmental issues more fully in 2005, when it found itself an early responder, providing supplies and donated goods, and coordinating relief efforts, immediately after Hurricane Katrina. The company decided to consider long-term implications of the storm, and become a “positive, difference-making company every day.” Programs were started to cut emissions and waste, and sell more sustainable merchandise.
Now, Project Gigaton is a piece of Walmart’s sustainability initiatives, designed to help address long term-global challenges and improve people’s lives. Walmart believes that organizations of all sizes can make an impact on the environment, while improving business performance.
Walmart says some companies may think they are too small to make a difference, but that all can contribute. They have created an emissions reduction toolkit highlighting the business case for their effort, which can be adapted to like-minded organizations.
Walmart has many other sustainability initiatives underway, such as using solar and other renewable energy, making its fleet more efficient, packaging improvements, reducing deforestation, and improving product use and design.
Meanwhile, U.S. and multinational retailers and brands such as Apple, General Electric, PepsiCo, Walt Disney, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Facebook, Google, and others have condemned the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and vowed to make their own efforts to keep the pledge.
- Walmart launches project gigaton – Walmart
- Walmart’s Project Gigaton aims to slash emissions – CNBC
- Walmart’s aha moment on climate change – CNBC
- Why US companies will ignore withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement – The Conversation
- Sustainability initiatives – Walmart
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should business think strictly of short-term revenue and profit goals or do they have an obligation to factor larger, longer-term environmental impacts into their business plans? Do you think retailers and brands that have pledged to continue working to cut emissions and improve their overall sustainability programs in contrast to the U.S. government’s position will be rewarded for their efforts?