How Does Smart Green Logistics by Alibaba’s Cainiao Create Positive Impact on the Planet and Business?

  • E-commerce is booming, but it is also creating more waste and emitting more carbon dioxide.

  • Cainiao, Alibaba's logistics network, has adopted Smart Green Logistics strategy to achieve carbon neutrality.

  • They have also adopted various technologies including robots and driverless vehicles, smart and eco-friendly packaging, and machine learning to help reduce waste and carbon emission and increase efficiency in logistics.

16 Feb, 2023
Cainiao or China Smart Logistics Network is Alibaba’s logistics arm founded in 2013 to serve as a platform for online merchants to transport goods to their buyers. Its goal is to deliver goods to destinations within China within 24 hours and to global destinations within 72 hours. The success behind this achievement is a combination of smart logistics and sustainability.

According to CarbonStop, a carbon consultant and provider of carbon management software that partners with various organizations to calculate, analyze, manage, and report their carbon emissions, courier services account for 29% of carbon emission as a result of e-commerce in China, while packaging accounts for another 18%. The statistics led to Cainiao's initiatives and one of Alibaba's commitments to achieve carbon neutrality and halve their carbon concentrations in the supply chain by 2030.

One example of how Alibaba engaged their 4 million customers in their green logistics initiative is by promoting the recycle of packaging they received during the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival in 2011. Since then, this initiative has reduced carbon emissions by up to 53,000 tons.

In the midst of the continuous growth of e-commerce, the express delivery industry has also experienced an increase in packaging waste and carbon dioxide emissions due to the massive volume of parcels delivered. Greenpeace has estimated that the amount of packaging waste in China could reach 41.3 million tons by 2025.

To cope with this ongoing challenge, Cainiao has made a move to mitigate the impact by deploying smart warehousing, robots, and driverless vehicles to reduce their ecological footprints. The company has also measured the impact of various human activities on ecosystems by calculating the consumption and waste generated compared to the rate of ecological restoration.

One of Cainiao's outstanding green logistics solutions is "Smart and Creative Packaging" where over 290 million pieces of packaging have been optimized each year. So far, the company has successfully reduced waste from overfilling by 15% since 2018. The smart packaging algorithms can evaluate products based on type, volume, weight and size, then match them to the most suitable packaging format. This has dramatically improved efficiency in product packaging as well as space management for courier vehicles. More importantly, almost 100% of the packages shipped from the warehouse today are biodegradable and nearly 50% of them are scotch-tape free.

In addition, Cainiao also uses "machine learning and predictive analytics to predict customer needs" with massive data sets. This strategy has allowed merchants to locate their network or warehouse operations to be closer to the end consumers and reduce delivery times. The shorter geographical distance has led to reduced carbon emissions and lower operating costs. It also enables the product bundling to maximize load capacity for maximum efficiency instead of delivering individual items to consumers from a central warehouse which are often located far away.

It is obvious that by adopting various smart technologies, Cainiao has been able to find a smoother and smarter way to manage their logistic operations. Their strategy has not only reduced the use of paper and plastics, but has also ensured that all of their existing businesses will become more sustainable in the long run.

For those interested in the logistics industry, don’t forget to follow the TILOG-LOGISTIX Blogs to get the latest updates and interesting trends for the digital transformation of your business. Logistics technology will become more intelligent at "TILOG-LOGISTIX 2023", the most comprehensive exhibition of logistics service providers and intralogistics technologies and solutions under the theme "Smart and Green Logistics for Sustainable Tomorrow” which will be held on 17-19 August 2023 at BITEC, Bangkok.

Important Note:

“TILOG-LOGISTIX” is open to trade visitors only. Please dress in business attire. Those wearing shorts and/or sandals and minors under the age of 15 will not be permitted into the exhibition hall. The organizer reserves the right to refuse admission to anyone without cause or explanation.