According to Weibo, Alibaba's Hema supermarket stores will no longer be providing free plastic bags at the checkout (Feb. 28). From February 28th onwards, 21 grams of "green energy" points will be given to shoppers every time they decide not to buy plastic bags. The "green energy" points will then accumulate in their Alipay users' Ant Forest carbon account. As part of Hema and Alipay's larger campaign, they aim to use the reward system to motivate people to adopt a greener lifestyle.
Through the new initiative, Hema said that it is expecting to save over 12 million plastic bags and accumulate enough green energy points to plant 15,000 trees.
Ant Forest by Alipay will gamify an individual's carbon footprint tracking. When a user has collected a certain amount of green energy points, Ant Forest will plant a real tree. The app encourages their users to take up a more sustainable life such as taking public transportation, buying or selling second-hand goods, and reducing plastic consumption. Ant Forest was launched in 2016 and has quickly become one of the world's largest platforms for tracking individual's carbon footprint.
The Ant Financial Alibaba Group, the branch Ant Forest is under, claimed to the Global Times that from 2016 to 2019, they had planted 55,520,000 trees in China. That many trees would cover approximately 507 square kilometers of land.
With the help of local authorities, Ant Forest plants their trees every spring and autumn to reduce desertification in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, said the Ant Forest manager.
Since Ant Forest, there have been other online-planting inspired apps including Internet Trees Planting that helps with poverty areas in China.
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