Cainiao Network, Alibaba Group’s logistics arm, has teamed up with Nestlé to make the Swiss food giant’s supply chains in China greener.
The companies will set about transforming Nestlé’s operations, from its production lines and warehousing to distribution and the recycling and reuse of packaging, Cainiao said in a statement on Monday.
The initiative comes as Alibaba steps up its ecosystem-wide push to shrink its carbon footprint – a goal that it shares with Nestlé.
As consumption rises in China, it has become even more important to “preempt the transition towards a greener supply chain, with concrete and step-changing sustainability actions,” said Tony Domingo, Nestlé’s senior vice president of Supply Chain and Procurement in the Greater China Region.
The companies started collaborating last month on a recycling service on Cainiao’s app and its mini-programs on Alipay and WeChat. Chinese consumers who purchase products from Nestlé’s premium coffee brand Sense Café, for example, can use the new mobile feature to book a time for Cainiao couriers to pick up the used packaging from their doorsteps free of charge.
Other brands in Nestlé’s portfolio – such as Nescafé and Starbucks at Home – have expanded the use of environmentally friendly packaging, including Cainiao’s proprietary plastic-free boxes and biodegradable bags. Nestlé has also leveraged Cainiao’s smart algorithms to forecast and assign appropriately sized packaging for products to reduce unnecessary waste.
“By marrying technology innovation with logistics, we strive to foster a greener and more sustainable logistics ecosystem, and to become the partner of choice for leading consumer brands globally as they adopt green supply chain practices,” said Guo Yongshuai, who heads Cainiao’s Green Supply Chain division.
Going forward, the companies plan to explore more packaging designs, promote the use of reusable boxes and sustainably made shipping crates, as well as work on campaigns to raise awareness of sustainability.
Nestlé and Cainiao’s partnership on carbon reduction dates back to 2016 when the companies first started experimenting with sustainable packaging alternatives. Nestlé is among the nearly 500 brands that have partnered with Alibaba opting for reusable and tape-free packaging in warehouses. The effort has helped reduce over 86 million meters of plastic tape during last year’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival – enough to wrap around the entire planet twice.
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