Alibaba boasts greener 11.11 shopping event help cut computing usage by half

Alibaba said it reduced carbon emissions by 26,000 tons during this year's 11.11 Global Shopping Festival.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong on

Following promises of a more sustainable 11.11 Global Shopping Festival this year, Alibaba has reported the company reduced the use of computing resources during the annual event by 50% for every 10,000 transactions compared to last year.

Computing efficiency was also greatly improved with a 20% boost in technology deployment efficiency and 30% in CPU resource utilisation, the Chinese tech giant touted.

"Alibaba made cutting carbon emissions a priority during this year's 11.11 Global Shopping Festival. We have innovative technology to reduce emissions at every stage of our business," Alibaba CTO Cheng Li said.

"First of all, making our data centres more sustainable with less carbon emission is a top priority. We mainly used our Zhangbei County data centre to support 11.11. We used a lot of wind power to fuel the Zhangbi data centre. Wind energy is a key resource of green electricity.

"We have also developed liquid cooling technology which has been deployed at scale in our Hangzhou data centre and resulted in PUE or power usage effectiveness as low as 1.09, a remarkable achievement in the industry.

"By using less electricity in our data centres during this year's 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, we reduced carbon emissions by 26,000 tons."

Li added the company also leveraged its AI model M6 to improve the efficiency of its operations, such as in apparel design, but did so in a low-carbon way.

"While we trained the model with 1 billion parameters, we only consumed 1% of the industry-average energy. That enabled us to build a low-carbon AI," he said.

From a logistics standpoint, Ling said the company stocked products "closer to the consumer to reduce last-mile transportation", and deployed 350 Xiaomanly driverless electric delivery vehicles to deliver over 1 million packages during the festival's initial 10-day period.

"Alibaba is also improving the efficiency of package delivery routes from merchants to consumers," he added. "That's especially important in cross-border logistics. We consolidated orders meaning multiple parcels could be delivered to the same address in one batch. This resulted in lower carbon emissions and more sustainable transportation, while reducing the cost of deliveries for consumers and merchants."

These initiatives were in addition to the company creating a dedicated vertical to showcase energy-efficient and low-impact products for the first time, as well as issuing 100 million yuan worth of "green vouchers" to customers to encourage shoppers to shop green.

The company's logistic arm Cainiao Network also rolled out over 60,000 package collection and recycling stations across China and implemented 10,000 Cainiao post stations where users can reuse parcel packaging.

Alibaba Group CMO Chris Tung told media last month that the focus on sustainability marked a coming-of-age moment for the 11.11 shopping event.

"In the early stages of 11.11, we focused on growth, the same way that parents would focus on a child's height and strength. But as a child becomes a teenager, the parents' shift their focus to nurturing the child's sense of responsibility; the role he or she plays in society. That is what we're doing now," he said.

"11.11 has blossomed into a mature teenager. It is crucial for Alibaba to now focus on building up its value system, helping it find its ability to create value for the community and the society at large."



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