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April 20, 2017 11:55 AM, EDT
Wal-Mart Sets Ambitious Goal for Reducing Emissions in Supply Chain
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has set a goal of eliminating 1 billion tons of emissions from its supply chain by 2030, an effort dubbed Project Gigaton that will focus on reducing fuel use by suppliers and customers.

The retail giant announced the plan during its annual Milestone Summit in Bentonville, Ark., on April 19.

“We are proud of the improvements we’ve made in reducing our own emissions, but we aim to do more,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer for Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart has been investing in solar energy and gets about 25% of its global energy from renewable sources. It also has managed to double the efficiency of its store delivery fleet in the United States from 2005 to 2015 by buying trucks that get better fuel economy, reducing the number of miles traveled and packing more goods in its trailers through better planning and new packaging.

The company is also conducting a study of the effects of e-commerce on emissions with more customers picking up items in stores or having goods delivered to the home.

It’s unclear how the emissions plan might affect freight carriers that deliver to Wal-Mart.

The company is asking suppliers to focus on energy, agriculture, waste, packaging, deforestation and product use and design to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Wal-Mart’s initiative drew praise from a number of environmental groups and businesses.

“Supply chains are the new frontier of sustainability,” said Carter Roberts, CEO of the World Wildlife Fund. “The journey products take from source to shelf will collectively shape our planet’s future.”

Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said Wal-Mart is showing “real leadership.”

“With the federal government largely on the sidelines,” Krupp said, “the private sector is stepping up to advance solutions that will help business, people and nature thrive.”

Wal-Mart ranks No. 3 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of largest private carriers in North America with 6,277 tractors, 66,191 trailers and 199 straight trucks.