Going green in e-commerce: Alibaba joins hands with partners and consumers in driving sustainability efforts

Armed with wide-ranging influence and innovative solutions, Alibaba is tackling sustainability alongside its partners and consumers.
Major e-commerce platforms are becoming more environmentally aware than ever as surging global demand for sustainable living and broader sustainability issues come to the fore in the retail space. 
Through sustainable consumer products, related marketing campaigns and logistics services, and carbon emission reductions, Alibaba has steadily embedded sustainability practices throughout its value chain in recent years. Through these efforts, the company has presented a clear message to consumers, merchants and brands that they all have a role to play in moving towards a collective greener future. 
Offering more sustainable choices 
According to a 2022 Bain & Company survey, even if 90% of consumers in Asia-Pacific are willing to spend a premium on sustainability products, nascent understanding, an overwhelming number of information sources and a lack of sustainable options are challenging their purchase follow-through.1 Therefore, it is essential for e-commerce platforms to offer more eco-friendly products while helping consumers to have a better understanding of the environmental impact brought on by their purchasing decisions in order to close the intention-action gap.
To roll out more eco-friendly products, Alibaba’s domestic commerce arm Taobao & Tmall Group has stepped up its efforts in expanding its partnership with sustainable brands. For example, renowned fashion brands across Tmall Luxury Pavilion have launched items made with materials from recycled plastic bottles and marine waste for their Spring/Summer 2023 collections. 
In April, American luxury brand Ralph Lauren released its Earth Polo series on Tmall Luxury Pavilion. Every shirt in the collection is made entirely from around 12 recycled plastic bottles. Likewise, British fashion label Stella McCartney recently launched a shoulder bag made from plant-based vegan leather.  
In addition to offering eco-friendly products, it is equally important to educate consumers so that they are in a better position to make informed sustainable purchases. For example, Alibaba has been promoting its carbon label feature to consumers as these labels are proven to be relevant to consumers who wish to minimise their carbon footprint.
To further drive consumers towards more eco-friendly shopping options, Alibaba Group’s B2C e-commerce platform Tmall piloted eco-friendly product labelling on electric goods in 2022 which enables shoppers to check the carbon emissions they could save by using an energy-efficient device versus a comparable appliance. To date, Tmall has categorised over 300,000 energy-efficient home appliances from 3,000 merchants, and has plans to add more eco-friendly labels to a broader range of shopping categories. 
Within their supply chain, the Taobao and Tmall platforms have been leveraging innovative technology, such as Energy Expert — Alibaba Cloud’s AI-powered sustainability and energy management system — to label more diversified eco-friendly products from its suppliers. With Energy Expert, Tmall Supermarket has been showcasing a list of selected products including disposable paper cups, paper plates, bamboo chopsticks and baking paper, by tagging them under the “eco-friendly” label to increase their exposure to shoppers. Consumers can scan the QR code printed on product packaging to get details about the product’s carbon footprint, and those who purchase the products then earn points which can be redeemed for benefits on Alibaba’s carbon ledger platform. 
Empowering brand partners in navigating their green journey  
Alibaba remains committed to supporting brands as well as merchants in their green journey and working with them to promote decarbonization across the consumer sector. It partnered with over 20 leading global consumer goods companies, including French personal care conglomerate L’Oréal and French multinational food and beverage group Danone, to launch the “Decarbonization-friendly Action” program. As part of this program, the companies shared their experience and guidance on how brands can boost their low-carbon products, marketing, and logistics efforts.
To help promote a circular economy in China’s beauty industry, L’Oréal signed a three-year partnership with Alibaba this April, where both companies pledged to make the entire supply chain greener, from warehousing to packaging and distribution, and recycling. In addition, both companies will advocate sustainable lifestyles among consumers. 
Through its logistics arm Cainiao Network, Alibaba Group has developed a series of solutions to engage consumers and business partners in sustainable practices by launching nationwide green campaigns and driving brands to expand their sustainability initiatives. 
To reduce the use of plastic materials across its supply chain, Cainiao also designed customised packaging for consumer brands such as Nestlé, based on the actual size of goods in their factories. During the 2022 fiscal year, Cainiao worked with partners to deliver over 700 million shipments in original packaging, further reducing packing box materials by 15% through applying smart algorithms. 
This year, to celebrate World Environment Day, Cainiao expanded its box recycling programme by collaborating with brands from a wide variety of industries to recycle additional pre-used items including bags, clothes, and books with the aim to help consumers develop a green mindset.
Looking beyond the value chains 
Driving sustainability transitions is more than “greening” the company’s own operations or engaging the wider community and collaborating with partners across the value chain. Platform companies like Alibaba have a bigger role to play in promoting eco-friendly consumer and industry practices. 
Over the years, Alibaba has developed various programmes for tackling environmental challenges by leveraging its e-commerce know-how and cloud infrastructure. The company will also help the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou promote the event’s green initiatives. 
Utilising its unique influence as a platform operator to mobilise actions and behavioural changes among consumers, merchants, and partners, and empowered by its advanced energy-efficient technologies and innovative business tools, Alibaba is well-positioned to drive more positive impact in the world. 


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