Alibaba Introduces Sustainability Initiatives to Make Singles’ Day as Green as Possible

Alibaba has kicked off its annual 11:11 Global Shopping Festival, also known as Singles’ Day, beginning with a Tmall Collection fashion show that was broadcast live from Shanghai. This is the first in a series of planned activities over 24 days, culminating in the company’s 24-hour online shopping extravaganza on Nov. 11.

The themes for this year’s festival are “new business,” “new consumption” and “green action,” according to a statement from Alibaba. This reflects the e-commerce industry’s growing concerns with sustainability, while still investing in the global reach of the shopping event.

In 2018, the company processed 1 billion delivery orders, and that number is expected to increase this year, along with the associated carbon footprint. As consumer concerns deepen about the environmental consequences of shipping, Alibaba has implemented new technologies to reduce its impact. Alibaba Cloud, the service used to power the online shopping process, forecasts it will save 200,000 kilowatt hours of energy on Singles’ Day itself through the use of renewable energy sources and conservation efforts like liquid-cooled servers.

As part of the initiatives, Alibaba’s logistics arm, Cainiao, and its partners have also announced that Nov. 20 will be dedicated to the recycling of cardboard packaging. There are accompanying plans to convert 75,000 locations into permanent recycling stations and to contract express courier services to pick up used cardboard boxes and packaging.

“Given its scale, minimizing environmental impact is essential, and our technology will ensure it is a green 11.11 Global Shopping Festival,” said Fan Jiang, president of Taobao and Tmall, two of Alibaba’s shopping platforms.

But shopping is still at the heart of the annual event. Known for its special discounts and sale items, this year’s 11:11 festival will also see the launch of more than 240 limited-edition products from 215 international brands, including Lancôme, SK-II and Givenchy. These will be promoted through live-streaming sessions broadcast over the next 24 days.

In total, over 22,000 brands from 78 countries are expected to participate. This year will be the first time that local merchants from Russia, Spain, Italy and Turkey will join in, but there is also an emphasis on smaller merchants from within China, as 70% of Alibaba’s new customers come from smaller cities.

Alibaba’s 11:11 Global Shopping Festival was first introduced in 2009, where it brought in $7.8 million in revenue. Last year, the festival increased revenue by 27% from 2017, resulting in a total of $30.8 billion. Forecasts predict the 2019 event will be its largest yet.

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