The world’s cargo planes are barely enough to transport everything you order on Temu or Shein

The world’s cargo planes are barely enough to transport everything you order on Temu or Shein
The world’s cargo planes are barely enough to transport everything you order on Temu or Shein

No need to draw a picture for yourself (our stylistic talents leave something to be desired): for the environment, the association of fast fashion and online commerce is a real disaster.

Especially if the clothes come from far away, especially if they go back and forth for a size that is too big or a color brighter than on the screen, and even if they are then part of a circular economy which, ultimately and through a rebound effect, pushes for even more consumption.

Shein and Temu, Chinese giants conquering the world (low cost)

No need either, probably, to explain to you what the Shein and Temu brands are, for which you can regularly see advertisements on these pages, as in almost all the others. The two Chinese online commerce giants have already carved out the lion’s share in Europe, with crazy promotions, indecent prices, deliveries faster than light (or almost), and the continent is already crumbling under their very , very low cost and of very, very low quality.

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The most spectacular photos from NASA and SpaceX

But the Old Continent is only part of the world and it is also the colossal American market that Temu and Shein have now been targeting for several months. To the point of being noticed by the Saturday Night Livean NBC show as indestructible as it is regularly very funny, which devoted to the phenomenon, on May 18, a false advertisement screaming truth – and discomfort.

It’s all there, including yellow, acidic laughter and Jake Gyllenhaal and Sabrina Carpenter glowing as luxury models. Excessive consumption, but also the forced labor of the Uyghurs, the clothes which crack after three movements, or those full of lead or toxic substances (RTL) which make you sick, the prices at two francs if under which would cause n to burn any bank card…

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This ultimately not-so-funny sketch, however, is missing a subject, which Forbes recently looked into. How did the two Chinese companies achieve this exponential hypergrowth, which has meant that Shein is already capitalized to the tune of 66 billion dollars, according to figures cited by Capital, and that the holding company to which Temu belongs, PDD Holdings, is worth 167 billion dollars and continues to prance on Wall Street, as noted by Boursier.com?

They have relied heavily, heavily, heavily on global air freight, says Forbes. Not on their own fleet, unlike Amazon which ended up forming its own squadron, but on the private air carriers, who are rubbing their hands in view of this colossal new windfall, and racking their brains to provide enough aircraft to the Chinese brands to ensure their gargantuan appetites.

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Shein and Temu: 9,000 tonnes transported by plane per day, the equivalent of 88 Boeing 777s

Because the cheap trinkets and saps sold by the two Chinese firms do not travel by sea, and the container ships would be much too slow for the immediate and insatiable desires of consumers fed on ultra-fast fashion.

It is by air that goods are transported, in such a massive way that the entire air freight sector is turned upside down. The figures given by Forbes are dizzying, and somewhat despairing those who hope to one day see the world turn away from fossil fuels.

According to the American media, which cites calculations from Cargo Facts Consulting, 9,000 tonnes of goods are transported daily to their customers by Temu and Shein, the equivalent of 88 Boeing 777s.

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As Vert points out, and according to a study published in Atmospheric environment, plane flights represent 2.9% of total carbon dioxide emissions and, including other devastating but less known effects, such as condensation trails, are responsible for nearly 6% of global warming.

The thousands of planes which transport products for Temu and Shein directly from China to their destination countries, in Europe or the United States, therefore do not really help matters. Forbes does the math: when a commercial ship emits between 10 and 40 grams of CO2 for each ton per kilometer, a wide-body aircraft releases on average 500 grams for the same quantity, over the same distance.

Worse still, planes leave China full and, most of the time, return empty to load new cargo, ad lib ; It seems difficult to create a more senseless and polluting model than this one.

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This is the price of speed, but the Chinese giants have decided to absorb it in their margins – the Earth has no other choice but to store it in its atmosphere, to the point of killing its people. humans (especially older ones). As for air transport firms, they are of course over the moon: never in freight have they seen such growth, and such rapid growth, as with Temu and Shein.

Profits are exploding (+20% turnover for Korean Airlines since last year, mainly thanks to online commerce), demand is causing transport costs to rise at high speed (nearly twice what they were in 2019), air connections are multiplying like mushrooms, and companies are already scratching their heads to determine how they will be able to find enough free aircraft to ensure the multiplied torrent that will constitute the holiday season.

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Forbes nevertheless notes that this frenzy of cargo planes should eventually calm down somewhat. If they have fueled their growth on these crazy expenses in air freight, the two Chinese firms are starting to think about what comes next, and about ways to reduce costs that are becoming too high for their model. low cost.

Until then, perfectly useless objects at 1 euro and clothes worn twice (at least when they are worn) accumulate almost everywhere, ultimate metastases of our consumer societies, and the planet continues to suffer the consequences. consequences.

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