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The Double 11 gala, also known as Singles Day or the annual Alibaba online shopping bonanza, was held in China on the eve of the U.S.-China agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This is the first event in retail since China started to clamp down on tech giants and surging corporate profits. However, the stark contrast between the highly profitable event which generated over 115 billion dollars in 2020 and the reality of the climate crisis at Glasgow Cop26 summit could not be more stark.

Apple and other global brands have already reported record sales. Some of these sales exceeded tens of million dollars over several hours. The Chinese government and Alibaba have tried to downplay the celebrations, but the public is still hungry for bargains.

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20% of the 4bn packages shipped is plastic

The use of sustainable packaging and parcel shipping volumes will be monitored by watchdogs. It is clear that the sales event will produce a lot of waste. Nearly 4 billion parcels were shipped last year, most of it plastic.

Chris Tung, chief marketing officer at Alibaba, stated last month that the company must harness the power of 11.11 in order to promote sustainable development and inclusiveness for consumers, merchants, and other stakeholders within our ecosystem.

Singles Day is a huge success for Chinese e-commerce giants, global brands and retailers. However, it comes with high environmental costs that are not accounted for by sellers or the Chinese government.

Black Friday in western countries is outweighed by Singles Day events in China, which remain the largest online shopping event. Despite the chastened approach, there is no sign that the bonanza for China‚Äôs retailers will be less than in previous years. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t fireworks.