New report reveals maritime emissions from major US importers

According to New, the top US importers emitted 3.5 million tons of greenhouse gases from shipping during the peak of the pandemic-driven import surge in 2021 Research published today by the Ship It Zero campaign.

The research shows that Walmart, Target and Home Depot were the top polluters of the oceans from imports in 2021 due to increased demand for e-commerce.

The report examines the largest companies importing goods into the US, including Amazon, IKEA, LG Electronics, Nike, Target and Walmart. It shows that retailers have emitted 3.5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions from importing goods into the US by sea, equivalent to the emissions of 400,000 US households.

The report also highlights the ports hardest hit by imports and the communities facing increasing levels of pollution and health risks.

Ship It Zero is a coalition of organizations pushing some of the world’s largest companies to achieve zero-emission shipping by 2030. The report urges major US importers across all sectors to make shorter-term annual commitments to abandon dirty ships this decade.

“The latest report from Ship It Zero shows us that Walmart and Home Depot in particular are neglecting their responsibility to extend their climate commitments to the oceans and to do the right thing to U.S. port communities,” said Madeline Rose, director of climate campaigns at Pacific Environment. “Consumers overwhelmingly want their goods transported on zero-emission ships and have reported they would shift their business to companies with a cleaner marine climate footprint. We urge Walmart, Home Depot, and all companies that continue to rely on fossil-fueled ocean freight services to abandon dirty ships now and compete to load their goods onto the world’s first zero-emission ships.”


Of the eighteen companies analyzed, Walmart, Target and Home Depot contributed the most to climate and air pollution from shipping in 2021, be it through nitrous oxide (NOx), particulate matter (PM) or carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

LG and Samsung are the top ship polluters in the tech sector, with 309,000 and 217,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions and 5.9 and 4.2 tons of methane respectively from voyages to the US in 2021.

Nike ranked as the top polluter among the fashion companies analyzed and was responsible for 87,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2021.


The report finds that among the analyzed companies, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach handled over 40% of imports of TEUs and accounted for 35.5% of total CO2 emissions caused by sea imports. The ports of Seattle, Tacoma and the Northwest Seaport Alliance handled some of the cleanest and least carbon-intensive imports, suggesting they are well-positioned to lead the US in establishing green shipping corridors.

The Port of Savannah handled the most retail containers on the East Coast, but had the second-highest per-container carbon intensity of any port after Houston in 2021.

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