(Yicai Global) May 25 -- Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s logistics arm plans to use artificial intelligence to underpin a comprehensive green initiative in China's courier sector as the country's e-commerce boom imposes a new burden on an already challenged environment.
To minimize the Alibaba group's carbon footprint, Cainiao Network Technology Co. will apply AI algorithms to drive smart routing in 40,000 villages, shorten average delivery journeys by 30 percent in rural areas, while deploying new energy vehicles in 100 Chinese cities by 2020.
"The logistics industry across the world is looking for green solutions that go hand-in-hand with increased efficiencies," said Cainiao Network President Lin Wan. "Cainiao has the potential to do much more that will benefit future generations without compromising the interests of our customers now."
China's express delivery companies are among the biggest producers of packaging material waste as billions of parcels are delivered to shop, homes and offices each year amid the country's breathtaking e-commerce boom. The tens of thousands of delivery trucks and vans on the nation's roads are also adding to pollution levels.
Dubbed Alibaba Green Logistics 2020, the initiative will address material recycling, packaging, route planning and delivery methods and involve all businesses in the Alibaba group.
Alibaba's online marketplaces Tmall and Taobao as well as second-hand site Xianyu will increase the use of recycled packaging; retail management platform Lingshou Tong will reuse delivery boxes to serve millions of mom-and-pop stores; and food delivery app Ele.me will encourage users to place orders without asking for disposable cutlery.
This latest effort is a continuation of Cainiao's 2016 Green Logistics Project, a collaboration with 32 logistics partners. Driven by Cainiao's green initiatives, in 2017 alone the company decreased its carbon footprint by 136,000 tons, saving seven million trees.
"Green is an important element in building a brighter future for the logistics industry," Lin said.