Jun 1, 2020|

Li Xiaobai: World Without Waste is Another Marathon


by Vivian Yang

When COVID-19 separated marathon fans from running together, some of them never slowed down in spreading their ideas. On May 28th, Li Xiaobai, seasoned Chinese marathoner, visited JD.com’s headquarters in Beijing and met with JD’s Chief Strategy Officer Jon Liao for a conversation on environmental sustainability

Li Xiaobai and Jon Liao, May 28, 2020

Li is the founder of the New Silk Road fashion organization, but he is more widely known as the first Chinese member in the Marathon Grand Slam Club which comprises finishers of 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days, plus the Arctic Ocean for the North Pole Marathon. Li was ranked as the No.1 Outstanding Marathoner in China in 2017.

To keep progressing on his 200+ marathon record during COVID-19, the 63-year-old is currently busy joining online marathons, including a virtual version of the 2020 Boston Marathon, which has been canceled for the first time in its 124-year history.

“It’s a very natural thing for humans to love running in nature, and it’s also a very natural thing for me to protect her while running,” said Li when talking about the famous photo which captured him picking up plastic water bottles scattered by other athletes during the 2017 Hood to Coast Relay in China.

Li Xiaobai, 2017

The photo went viral and raised a heated discussion in the running community, making people think about environmental protection and self-discipline while completing more grand running challenges. Consequentially, some concrete waste control measures have since been carried out.

From both individual and business perspectives, CSO Liao seconded Li’s points. Liao also related Li’s action to JD’s current partnership with Coco-Cola to promote circular economy in China.

In supporting Coco-Cola’s World Without Waste initiative, JD’s Green Stream team piloted a recycling program for plastic beverage bottles in late 2019. Over 50,000 bottles collected from households in Shanghai were reused as materials that manufactured JD couriers’ uniforms and other lifestyle products. Li will work happily as a volunteer to promote the idea of World Without Waste, a program jointly launched by Coca-Cola and JD.com.

The partnership is the first attempt at cross-industry collaboration to explore a circular solution between an international company and the Chinese e-commerce company, leveraging the know-how, resources and operational excellence of the two partners.

Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO James Quincey(second left), JD Retail CEO Lei Xu(far right), JD Logistics CEO Zhenhui Wang(far left) with a model who wears a JD Courier’s uniform made by recycled beverage bottles, at World Economic Forum in Davos in January, 2020. 


“We believe that consumption is at the center of the overall environment. It does not only matter to the value chain. How to achieve responsible consumption in the areas of product design, marketing, transportation, purchasing and disposal will be critical to solving social and environmental issues,” said Liao. “We want to join hands with all stakeholders to improve this ecosystem together.”

In May 2020, JD.com announced the company’s updated mission which put sustainability as one of its three core development pillars: “Sustainability refers to our desire as partners… to protect the ecological balance, and to be a grateful and responsible corporate citizen, achieving a balance of people, planet and profit, and to do our part for the sustainable development of the world,” Chairman and CEO Richard Liu wrote in an internal letter.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It’s not a mere coincidence for both Li and Liao to have deep faith in this saying.