Another year draws to a close, marking our 12th year in Ritoma Village, a nomadic settlement in the Amdo region of the Tibetan Plateau. We enter the next decade with new maturity and vigor as a brand, confident of our unique identity and its place in the world. Today, we feel proud of calling ourselves the first Tibetan Luxury lifestyle brand.
Norlha is not only a brand: Encapsulated in each product are convictions and a way of life that we strive to convey from the way we care for our employees and preserve our environment to the integrity of the product we deliver to our customers.
Being a lifestyle brand comes with responsibility. Environmental and Social responsibility has always been at the core of Norlha's mission. In a world faced with global, environmental, and social challenges, we want to fill our part in contributing positively to the delicate life balance on the Tibetan Plateau. In 2020, we will continue to take initiatives that lower our footprint on the environment while heightening our social impact. We are small, but can still show the way by living what we believe and taking small steps to change the way we work.
In April of 2019, we began by reducing and reusing plastic in the atelier, recycling thread, and wool waste, curbing water usage, and tracking energy consumption per product. This year our plastic use decreased by 40%, a figure we hope to increase further in the coming year. Norlha is in a nomadic community, and while the balance of the surrounding grasslands is dependent on the presence of large herds of yak and sheep, a recent surge in the numbers of animals has led to a threat of over-grazing. By creating a new source of employment, Norlha has relieved the grassland of 400 grazing yaks.
Socially, Norlha continues to be the most significant local employer, employing 34% of the local community, of which 60% are women. In 2019 Norlha trained four women in administrative and management roles.
Today we close 2019 with: 132 employees, of which 120 are Ritoma locals. 4 million RMB given back to the local area in salaries and benefits. 900,000 RMB in local employee training costs.
19 experts from eight different countries visited for periods of more than three weeks. We want to thank them for imparting their knowledge and expertise, contributing to the growth of Norlha as a socially responsible Tibetan lifestyle brand.
In April of 2019, Norlha became the 14th company in China to receive a B-Corp certification. We scored the second-highest BIA in China and were in the top 10 percentile worldwide. This recognition was a deeply felt mark of appreciation for our social and environmental endeavors of the past twelve years.
Norlha's markets have continued to grow as we develop a community of people who care about responsible business and conscious brands. This year, Norlha opened a new store in Shangri-La in Yunnan and another in the Lhasa's Barkhor, marking its 6th store on the Tibetan Plateau. We feel that Norlha's strong presence in Tibetan areas, the origin and the heart of our Brand, is essential.
Norlha's E-com sold in over 26 different countries, and we are happy to announce that beginning March 2020, we will be presenting our collections in Paris during Fashion Week. As we strive to live by our social and environmental standards, we look forward to offering the Norlha Lifestyle to countries around the world and sharing our new collections for Men, Women, Children, and Home.
We look to 2020 with confidence, as we enter a time of heightened consciousness around the world for business as a force of good. At Norlha, we are determined to become sustainable not only through our environmental and social practices but also by giving back to the world market creations of real value, creations where quality meets design, and the traditional meets the contemporary.