Walmart's Project Gigaton: A Perfect Opportunity to Change the Pallet

Walmart recently made headline news with its major Project Gigaton initiative. The initiative aims to eliminate a billion tons (one gigaton) of emissions by 2030. Kudos to the world's largest retailer for making a commitment that sets a high bar for America's corporations.

So what does this have to do with shipping pallets? We're glad you asked.

Like Change the Pallet, Walmart's initiative focuses on what suppliers can do to reduce emissions – and what Walmart can do to drive that change in supplier behavior.

We call this the "supplier demand" model – specifically, when companies, colleges, hospitals and government agencies use their purchasing power to require suppliers to adopt certain practices. In the case of Change the Pallet, we call for using that leverage to require that shipments to campuses and facilities arrive on lightweight, recyclable corrugated pallets. Of course, we can only call for it – Walmart can demand it!

Back to Project Gigaton, which is powered by Walmart's "emissions reduction toolkit" that directs suppliers to emissions-reducing modifications.

Every single product’s journey—from source to shelf—begins and ends on a pallet.

According to Carter Roberts, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund, "The journey that products take from source to shelf will collectively shape our planet's future." At Change the Pallet we couldn't agree more because every single product's journey—from source to shelf—begins and ends on a pallet. In fact, this might be the only thing that all 70,000 of Walmart's suppliers have in common!

And for this reason, Project Gigaton is a terrific opportunity for Walmart and their collaborating NGOs to include the option in their emissions reduction toolkit for suppliers to ship on more sustainable pallets (i.e., lower emissions, less fuel, fewer trucks needed, etc.) Not only would this advance the core objective (reducing supplier emissions), but it would help those 70,000 suppliers score higher.

Change the Pallet congratulates Walmart and looks forward to seeing the visionary Project Gigaton come to fruition. Still, we can't help thinking that if the company would allow its 70,000 suppliers to ship on lightweight, recyclable pallets, the goal can be reached all that much faster.

Currently, and seemingly counter to the aims of Project Gigaton, Walmart mandates that all 70,000 of their suppliers ship tens of millions of loads each year on ultra-heavy (70-pound) wood pallets that add emissions at every step of the chain, and usually end up in a landfill.

Have something to contribute? We encourage you to share your thoughts. Join the conversation by commenting below or on Twitter at @changethepallet.

Image Credit: Walmart