Inside Walmart’s climate and sustainability strategy

Retail Gets Real 258: How the company integrates sustainability into the business strategy

Reaching for Net Zero

Explore NRF’s members-only guide for retailers for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and setting science-based targets. Learn more.

As one of the largest and most influential retail companies in the world, what Walmart says and does about sustainability makes a big impact. On this week’s episode of the Retail Gets Real podcast, Walmart Senior Director of Sustainability Zach Freeze joins the show to share how the company is approaching sustainability from a strategic perspective, working toward ambitious goals and leading the way for the retail industry.

When Walmart began its sustainability efforts in 2005, it began from the top down, with then-CEO Lee Scott setting ambitious goals such as going to renewable energy, selling more sustainable products and creating zero waste at a time when not many other large retailers were focused on it.

Since then, the goals have become more defined, but that initial entry with executive-level attention and big goals “energized the company in figuring out this is important,” Freeze says.

“We've gotten more specific, but it's really forced us to understand what this means to our business and the role that Walmart can play in leading what we think is the revolution to be a regenerative company,” Freeze says.

Today, Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, especially in the area of climate change. “We are in proudly over 10,000 communities around the world. We have over 2 million associates, and the changing climate is going to affect us all. And so as Walmart, we have a role to play,” Freeze says. Among those climate goals is to cut emissions to zero across the company’s global operations by 2040.

Learn more

Learn from Walmart and other leading retailers on how to create a more sustainable supply chain at NRF Supply Chain 360, June 20-21, 2022 in Cleveland.

But Walmart’s influence is larger than its own company, which is why it launched a project called Project Gigaton to address sustainability within its supply chain and network of suppliers with a goal of reducing emissions by one gigaton by 2030.

Listen to the full podcast to learn more about how sustainability is woven into the strategy of Walmart across all functional teams, why transparency with customers and associates is so important and the challenging work yet to be done.

Related content

How ThirdLove revolutionized the bra market
Woman wearing ThirdLove products
Retail Gets Real episode 310: Co-founder and CEO Heidi Zak on creating an inclusive brand.
Read more
Sam’s Club Chief Merchant on leading through times of accelerated change
Sam's Club warehouse exterior
Retail Gets Real episode 309: Megan Crozier talks about what it means to be a ‘member-obsessed’ brand.
Read more
M.M.LaFleur CEO on evolving how the company helps women dress for work
M.M. LaFleur showroom
Retail Gets Real episode 308: Listening to the customer and following their lead.
Read more