Walmart Found To Be One Of The Biggest Contributors To Climate Change?

Walmart's cargo ships leak 3.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, directly contributing to climate change.

By Ryan Clancy | Updated

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While 2021 was a big year for retailers as the pandemic drove up internet sales to crazy heights, it also had other detrimental effects that have been spoken about a lot less. The shipping industry was extremely busy that year due to everyone isolating and spending their money at home. But people didn’t know that due to this increase in sales, retail stores like Walmart were some of the most significant contributors to climate change.

Regarding climate change, the fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters and a significant source of carbon emissions. Throughout 2021, the shipping boats that carried inventory for the top 18 retail companies in America emitted 3.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases. This amount is the same as the yearly pollution from 750,000 gas-powered cars.

These ships carried goods for clothing, technology, furniture and a range of other stores. Along with greenhouse gases, the ships polluted port communities with thousands of metric tons of dangerous nitrous oxide and particulate matter.

These findings come as several environmentally concerned campaigns call for companies to demand cleaner, more environmentally-friendly fuels and practices. Like many other business sectors, they should be looking to be carbon-net zero by 2030. Walmart, Target, and Home Depot caused more than 1.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and 33 metric tons of methane, all of which were released into our Earth’s atmosphere and contributed to the biggest crisis of our lives.

Most shipping companies that work with major brands, like Walmart, use carbon-intensive fuel oil to run their vast cargo ships. The shipping companies that major brands use run their ships using carbon-filled fuel. The industry alone accounts for over three percent of the emissions created annually.

Along with environmental effects, these huge cargo ships can also have detrimental effects on the people living near these ports. Emitting toxic chemicals like nitrous oxide, sulfur oxide, and destructive particulate matter could elevate the citizen’s chance of contracting a form of cancer or respiratory issues.

Shipping boats for Target and Home Depot caused increased pollution in residential areas around the ports in both the East and West coasts of America.

Due to this high amount of bad publicity, Walmart and Home Depot announced that they are collaborating with the shipping companies they use to find more environmentally friendly and sustainable shipping options. Dell, another company named on the list, has also responded that they are working towards being carbon-net zero by 2050 across its entire supply chain. All the other companies named in the top 18 polluters declined to comment. 

Many retail brands have made the same pledge that they will be carbon-net zero by 2040, but to spur on the actual change, they need to take action where they can, and one place that they can make a serious change to the environment is shipping. Big multinational companies have the power to reject companies that will not change quickly enough, and most freight companies will not want to lose such a lucrative contract. By 2025, there will be 48 zero-emission container ships operational, and the big retail brands should be starting to make deals with them so that real change can be made.