How science-based targets guide Walmart's sustainability course

Walmart is the first retailer to sign up for approved science-based targets around emissions reductions, said Kathleen McLaughlin, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer for Walmart Stores. 

"We are committing to reducing emissions by 18 percent by 2025 in our operations," she said, a level of rigor that "has pushed us to be more creative."

Walmart's sustainability goals are as varied as its product offerings. The company is also working towards a zero-waste supply chain by 2025 in both upstream and downstream operations. Furthermore, it's reducing the deforestation imprint of commodities, such as palm oil, beef, soy and paper production. 

"We're committing to improve the safety and healthfulness of our products," she said, with Walmart taking out 95 percent of chemicals of concern across its carried and in-house brands. Accountability and traceability extend to factories across the world, as worker safety and dignity is also a top focus for the brand. 

The retailer cannot do it alone and is working with nonprofits such as the Nature Conservancy, the EDF and WWF to set and meet its ambitions: "They bring expertise that is complementary to our experience — but we're not scientists, so we value that collaboration."

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