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Alibaba's Vision for a Sustainable Future

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Sustainability is top of mind for many businesses, and companies have a major role to play to lower carbon footprints.

As the leading retailer in Asia, we wanted to go behind the scenes to understand how Alibaba is promoting green commerce and what the future holds. 

Chris Tung, CMO of Alibaba Group, gave us insight into the company’s sustainability initiatives and goals for our Top 100 Retailers in Asia 2022. Here’s a preview of the company’s eco-friendly plans and programmes.  

How is Alibaba embracing and implementing sustainability across the business?

Alibaba has made sustainability a top priority. We were among the first tech companies to announce carbon-neutrality goals in Asia Pacific. And we’ve set up a sustainability committee at the board level to oversee strategic planning, goal setting and management.

We’re also committed to enabling brands and merchants on our platform to achieve their sustainability goals. Our partnership with Unilever is an excellent example of two forces coming together to advance sustainable consumption. As part of this partnership, we rolled out green-shelf space to spotlight eco-friendly products throughout our e-commerce platforms; worked together on joint marketing campaigns to promote a greener lifestyle; and introduced more than 1,000 AI-powered plastic recycling machines on university campuses across China.

imagees9y.pngSource: Alibaba Group

Our various digital tools, from marketing campaigns to cloud solutions to logistics, enable our partners to go green. One example is our logistics arm, Cainiao, which has built up a global green supply chain for merchants and brands to reduce their carbon footprint. In fact, Cainiao partnered with Nestlé to roll out a green supply chain, including packaging recycling, smart inventory allocation and a smart packaging algorithm. Our goal is to make Cainiao the industry benchmark for green logistics.

Also, every e-commerce transaction on Alibaba is powered by cloud computing. Our customers automatically get a lower carbon footprint way of shopping. During the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival in 2021, we migrated all systems and operations onto our public cloud. The use of renewable energy reduced more than 26,000 tonnes of carbon emissions at the main data centre supporting the 11.11 campaign. And half a million products with official Green Product Certification from over 2,000 merchants were featured in a dedicated eco-friendly vertical on the Tmall platform.

Moreover, Tmall has launched eco-friendly product labels to help consumers check the impact of their purchases on the environment and make sustainable choices. The platform started labelling electric goods and have been gradually adding other shopping categories. On the product listing page, a label shows the carbon emissions buyers could save by using an energy-efficient device versus a regular appliance. To date, Tmall has categorised over 300,000 energy-efficient home appliances from 3,000 merchants.

Do you expect sustainable retail to proliferate in the next couple years and if so, how?

We do believe that this trend will continue to become more prominent and be adopted as a mainstream goal for most businesses.

At Alibaba, we will continue focusing on promoting green consumption in our ecosystem. Not only by proactively cutting our own carbon emissions, but we also pledge to reduce our indirect emissions through the green energy we purchase for electricity and heating. More importantly, through all the aforementioned initiatives as well as others we’re working on, we will try to cut our carbon emissions in the goods and services we buy and the products we sell across our platforms.                                                                                                                                       
Check out our Top 100 Retailers in Asia 2022 to read the full interview on Alibaba’s sustainable impact. Plus, get Tung’s best advice for companies to remain competitive in the region.

You can also find out more about Alibaba's carbon neutrality goal and its sustainability efforts.

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