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September 26, 2017

What is Walmart’s Project Gigaton?

By Joey Lange, Director of Client Services and Edison Energy

What is Walmart’s Project Gigaton? If you haven’t heard about it yet, you will, especially if you are a Walmart supplier.

Launched earlier this year, Project Gigaton is a sustainability platform to encourage and track one billion metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions within its supply chain by 2030.

Walmart knows how to scale all efforts for big results and, with this initiative, they have truly gone “outside of the big-box.”

The reductions target six key areas: Energy, Waste, Packaging, Agriculture, Deforestation, and Products.

Goals might be science-based targets, a different GHG reduction goal, or a specific goal within one or more of the six areas. Walmart notes that each supplier needs to set a goal that fits within the maturity of its own sustainability program.

Walmart’s Project Gigaton website contains guidance to help suppliers begin their process. The initiative’s detailed metrics, measurement methods and techniques are still in development by The Sustainability Consortium. Edison Energy is a Tier 1 member of the Consortium.

For many Walmart suppliers, renewable energy, and perhaps to a slightly lesser extent, energy efficiency, will offer the most attractive combination of greenhouse gas reductions and financial value.  Walmart has had significant success and committed extensive resources to the pursuit of renewable energy over the past ten years.

When it comes to being sustainable, customers value it, stakeholders and shareholders value it, associates like it, and frankly … you can’t afford to not pursue these initiatives.”

For companies considering renewables and how they might help meet a Project Gigaton goal, the news is good: The North American renewables market is favorable for buyers, as prices for wind and solar have both continued to decline.  The Altenex Market Report – Spring 2017 provides quantitative and qualitative assessments of the key renewable energy market dynamics in North America.  International markets offer expanding opportunities as well, including Mexico, India, and Europe.

Companies will want to consider some of the complexities in the renewables market.  With almost 5,000 projects in the North American development pipeline, a varying landscape of federal, state and local policies and incentives, and complicated project and developer diligence requirements, many companies are leveraging third-party assistance as they initiate these efforts.  Assistance includes the initial stages of  creating goals, sourcing projects and evaluating analytics.  Companies in this pursuit are also seeking third-party support for internal education, commercial negotiations and general guidance through the internal approval process.

Overall, Project Gigaton is a brilliant program that reinforces Walmart’s ongoing commitment to the environment and its role as a leading global citizen. Project Gigaton continues the momentum Walmart created with its successful five-year supply chain emissions reduction goal, completed in 2015.  It shows that bold sustainability initiatives are good for business and can result in more efficient manufacturing processes, better products and more sustainable solutions for customers.

This effort is near and dear to both of us as it expands to the supplier community many of the same renewable energy opportunities that we worked on during our time on the Walmart Energy Team. The pursuit of sustainability, and specifically renewable energy, doesn’t have to be in conflict with the pursuit of a company’s positive financial bottom- line.

We found a recurring theme with our accomplishments at Walmart: When it comes to being sustainable, customers value it, stakeholders and shareholders value it, associates like it, and frankly … you can’t afford to not pursue these initiatives.

For more information on how Edison Energy is supporting Project Gigaton — including case studies of participating companies — please visit our dedicated Project Gigaton web page.

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