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How Walmart Got Its Suppliers to Cut 20 Million Tons of Emissions

Walmart is making major strides in its sustainability efforts.

The company announced Thursday that its suppliers have reported reducing more than 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in the global value chain as part of the its Project Gigaton initiative.

At the same time, the retailer unveiled plans to expand electric vehicle charging stations at its stores and to double its U.S. wind and solar energy use. Walmart said the moves, announced at its Sustainability Milestone Summit at its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., mark progress toward its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its operations and value chain.

Walmart the project last April to work with suppliers to reduce emissions from the company’s value chain by a gigaton, or 1 billion metric tons, by 2030.

“In its first year, Project Gigaton has helped to inspire action that has led to the avoidance of millions of metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and has expanded into an international campaign that includes the participation of several hundred suppliers,” Kathleen McLaughlin, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer for Walmart, said. “The early success of Project Gigaton parallels ongoing progress in our operational efforts that seek to double our U.S. renewable energy use and expand our customer electric vehicle charging hubs to retail outlets across more than 30 states.”

With the recent expansion of Project Gigaton in China and the U.K., more than 400 suppliers with operations in more than 30 countries have joined the program, in which suppliers can commit to reductions in any of six pillars: energy, agriculture, waste, packaging, deforestation and product use. About 85 percent of the Project Gigaton emissions reductions by suppliers have come from their efforts in energy and product use, with projects devoted to areas such as renewable-energy investments and the development of more efficient products.

Project Gigaton participant Procter & Gamble said at the summit that it plans to cut 50 million metric tons of emissions from its operations and value chain by 2030. P&G said it will achieve this by inviting customers to join the Tide #QuickColdPledge, switching to quick and cold laundry cycles to use less water and energy, and create 40 percent less emissions in every load, as well as committing to source 100 percent renewable electricity in its North American operations by 2020.

Meanwhile, Walmart said it will more than double its electronic vehicle charging station sites with the addition of several hundred stalls across its operations in 34 states. This expansion will bring Walmart’s total number of charging units to more than 1,000 when complete, creating a national grid of availability at hundreds of Walmart stores and Sam’s Club locations. Walmart’s EV charging station expansion will provide customers with added convenience, as several of the new units will feature super-fast chargers that can power up a car in between 10 and 30 minutes.

Walmart also discussed recent progress in renewable energy that will move it closer toward its 2025 goal of using 50 percent renewable energy globally. As a result of several new solar and wind projects, Walmart plans to more than double the amount of renewable energy it uses in the U.S. and increase the percentage of global electricity needs supplied by renewable sources above the current 28 percent.

The new initiatives include expansion of on-site solar energy installments. Walmart plans to add an additional 130 locations, which will bring its total to about 500 across 22 U.S. states and Puerto Rico.

Walmart recently reached an agreement to acquire renewable energy that will enable the building of two large-scale wind farms developed by Geronimo Energy and Engie. The 1.26 billion kilowatt hours produced annually from this arrangement will be equivalent to the majority of the electricity needed to power Walmart stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers across seven Midwestern states.

The new wind energy deals come a few weeks after the retailer announced that most of the renewable-energy certificates generated from a new solar farm in Alabama will supply 150 million kilowatt hours each year to the retailer, covering 40 percent of its electricity needs in the Alabama Power service area.

This month, Walmart said it had successfully collaborated with Google and Georgia Power on an initiative that will result in it obtaining 182 million kilowatt hours of additional renewable energy annually. Once the new Georgia Power arrangement is operational, an estimated 34 percent of Walmart’s power demand for its retail locations served by Georgia Power will come from the renewable sources in the program.

These new solar and wind projects will combine to provide more than 1.6 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy annually to Walmart, doubling the company’s renewable energy use in the U.S. and moving it closer toward its 2025 goal of being supplied with 50 percent renewable energy.

Editor’s Note: This story was reported by FN’s sister magazine Sourcing Journal. For more, visit Sourcingjournal.com.

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