Some of the biggest names around have one unfortunate characteristic in common—their cargo shipping operations are major contributors to global climate and air pollution, and even may have a detrimental impact on the health of local port communities.
Walmart, Target and The Home Depot topped the charts as some of the nation’s worst ocean import polluters in 2021, according to Ship it Zero, a climate and public health campaign dedicated to moving the world’s largest companies to 100 percent zero-emissions ocean shipping.
When identifying the primary culprit, look no further than Walmart, which took the spot as 2021’s chief ocean import polluter to the U.S., responsible for 788,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and 14.9 metric tons of the climate pollutant methane. Its ocean import pollution was heavily concentrated in Houston.
The retail giant’s share represents 22.1 percent of all CO2 emissions generated across the 18 companies analyzed by Ship it Zero.
Walmart was also the No. 1 emitter of methane in this analysis. Methane is 86 times more potent than CO2 on a 20-year timeframe, Ship it Zero says, and is a precursor to ground-level ozone, which can negatively impact local air quality and public health.
The company’s methane emission footprint is likely due to its close relationship with ocean carrier giant CMA CGM, which the report calls “one of the worst maritime climate offenders” due its investments in fossil fuels and operation of several of the largest liquefied natural gas container ships in the world. CMA CGM set a goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Walmart played the greatest role in Houston port pollution, responsible for 208,200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, 3,200 tons of sulfur oxide emissions, 5,800 tons of nitrogen oxide emissions, and 460 tons of particulate matter emissions on voyages made to the port in 2021.
Unfortunately, the emissions concerns create local health complications. According to the University of Texas School of Public Health, children living within two …
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