Wal-Mart issued a challenge to U.S. farmers on Wednesday, announcing an ambitious goal to cut carbon emissions in its supply chain by 1 gigaton, or 1 billion tons, by 2030. The retailer says a big part of the initiative will be driven by collaboration with suppliers—and the farmers who grow and raise their ingredients—to add cover crops to farmland and optimize fertilizer applications on 76 million acres by 2025.
“When we work on areas like fertilizer in agriculture, you’re going to see later on the impact that we can make together working harder in that space,” said Laura Phillips, senior vice president of sustainability for the company, announcing Project Gigaton at its annual Milestone Summit broadcast on YouTube. “It’s good for our business, and it’s good for the environment.”
The project also aims to cut back on emissions in dairy and beef production. The retailer has received commitments from a number of suppliers with strong ties to agriculture, including:
- Unilever: 10 million metric tons (MMT) in carbon reduction through planting of cover crops on 15 million U.S. acres
- Dairy Farmers of America: Transition 150 high-emissions manure management systems for more than 100,000 cows; cut enteric emissions from 2 million cows; and shift 1 million cows to milking and management approaches with potential for increased yields using technology, all by 2030
- General Mills: 5 MMT in carbon reductions
- Land O’Lakes: Secure 20 million acres through the company’s SUSTAIN agronomy platform; and have all farmer member-milk suppliers assessed through the SUSTAIN dairy platform, both by 2025
Executives at companies that supply goods to Wal-Mart spoke during the meeting, sharing how their commitments to Project Gigaton align with the retailer’s strategy. CEO John Bryant of Kellogg Company noted the importance of taking emissions goals to the field. He described how Kellogg has made commitments to reduce emissions by cutting back on food waste. For example, the company is working with Arkansas rice producers to reduce post-harvest loss.
“We have a commitment to implement climate-smart agricultural practices across about half a million farmers,” Bryant says.
Farmers and food companies are encouraged to establish and submit their emissions-reductions goals on Wal-Mart’s corporate website.