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Have you ever considered the environmental impact of half used hotel soap? As guests, we often take these soap bars home or leave them behind, contributing to the waste generated by the hospitality industry. However, many hotels have started implementing sustainable soap waste management practices. Some hotels participate in recycling programs that collect and process used soaps for repurposing. These initiatives not only reduce waste but also provide opportunities to support local communities or those in need. In the next section, we will explore the various ways hotels are addressing soap waste and how these efforts contribute to a greener and more sustainable future.
What does the statistics say ?
According to a conducted survey, an impressive 86% of hotel guests make the most of the provided soaps. However, other amenities seem to lag behind in meeting customer satisfaction. The reports indicate that 84% of people show interest in the in-room television, while only 36% utilize the hairdryer, and a mere 28% take advantage of valet parking services.
Hoteliers meticulously choose suitable brands for their toiletries, investing significant time and money in collaborating with them. However, these soap bars come with a predicament. While many guests take their unused soaps home, what happens to the half-used ones left behind in hotel bathrooms? After all, substantial investments are made in providing these amenities. So, what is the afterlife of these partially used soaps?
Surprisingly, the hotel industry generates approximately 440 billion pounds of waste annually, primarily consisting of soap bars and bottled amenities.
The Realization Point
In the world of hospitality, there once was a man named Shawn Seipler, who had a strong background in the technology industry. As part of his work, he frequently found himself spending around 150 days each year in various hotels. It was during one of his stays at a hotel in Minneapolis that a question sparked in his mind: What happens to the used soap bars left behind by guests?
Driven by curiosity, Shawn decided to inquire about this matter at the hotel’s reception desk. The response he received left him astounded. The front desk informed him that all hotels simply discard these soap bars and send them to landfills. They considered it a matter of upholding hospitality standards for their guests, leaving no room for compromise.
Shawn Seipler – Clean the world
Shawn Seipler is a passionate advocate for sustainability and social impact. He is the co-founder and CEO of Clean the World, a nonprofit organization dedicated to recycling hotel soap and hygiene products to save lives and protect the environment. With a background in technology and a strong commitment to making a difference, Shawn saw an opportunity to address the issue of hotel soap waste and its impact on communities in need. Under his leadership, Clean the World has grown into a global force for good, partnering with hotels worldwide to collect, recycle, and distribute soap and hygiene kits to vulnerable populations. Shawn’s visionary approach and unwavering dedication have transformed the way the hospitality industry manages its waste and has positively impacted countless lives around the world.
The Brilliant Move
As the night went on, thoughts of the wastage caused by discarding such toiletries consumed Shawn Seipler’s mind. This issue captivated his attention for several days, prompting him to seek a solution.
Weeks later, he approached the manager of a renowned hotel, proposing the idea of repurposing their unwanted soap bars. To Shawn’s delight, the manager agreed wholeheartedly, resulting in Shawn leaving the hotel with a bag brimming with used soap bars.
Joined by a group of friends, Shawn embarked on a transformative journey. They began by carefully peeling off the outer layer of the used soap, subsequently melting them down in cookers. The melted mixture was then poured into a soap matrix, left to dry overnight, and finally cut into brand new soap bars the following morning.
Astoundingly, their efforts yielded approximately 500 newly created bars each day, breathing life into what was once discarded waste.
So what came next?
Although Shawn had amassed a substantial collection of soap bars from hotels, he faced a financial hurdle. Determined to make a difference, he decided to launch an initiative called Clean the World, aiming to distribute these soaps to those in need. However, the processing of such a large quantity of soap required funding.
In search of support, Shawn turned to the Bill Gates Foundation and submitted an application, hoping for assistance. Unfortunately, his hopes were dashed as the application was rejected, accompanied by a notice stating that he should not reapply for at least three years.
Undeterred, Shawn shifted gears and focused on collaborating with hotels. To his surprise, they were more than willing to join forces. The hospitality industry saw the benefits of this partnership for two primary reasons: Firstly, it provided a cost-effective approach to recycling their waste. Secondly, it aligned with their sustainability goals, allowing them to effectively contribute to a greener future.
The working model
To establish a sustainable framework, the Annuity model was introduced. According to this model:
Hotels would contribute $1 per room per month to enroll in the program. In return, they would provide their waste soaps.
In addition to their contribution, hotels would receive detailed reports outlining the donations made on their behalf. This transparent system allowed them to track and understand their impact in giving back to communities in need.
The Detailed Process
Did you know that Clean the World initiative has successfully collaborated with a total of 8,000 hotels worldwide?
Renowned five-star hotel chains actively participate in this initiative, including JW Marriott, Hilton, Walt Disney resorts, Hyatt, InterContinental, as well as several airlines and cruise lines.
Among the partners, Hilton stands out as the largest contributor. Since 2019, Hilton has managed to generate an impressive 14.5 million soap bars in less than three years across all its worldwide locations.
Now, let’s explore how the process unfolds:
- Clean the World provides hotels with storage bins, which are filled with discarded soaps and then submitted to the nearest operative facility.
- The soaps undergo a thorough cleaning process in large machines, extracting any unnecessary waste and transforming them into soap noodles.
- The soap noodles then undergo a bleaching process.
- Next, the bleached soap is fed into a duplex plodder, which molds the soap into long blocks.
- These long blocks are carefully cut into individual bars, labeled, and packed.
- The repurposed soaps are then supplied to countries in need.
Once the recreated soaps are ready, they are distributed to various locations. Clean the World has partnered with organizations such as UNICEF, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, World Vision, and Children International to identify the most deserving places.
These soaps are provided to schools and clinics where children are taught the importance of hygiene and proper sanitation practices. Through these efforts, Clean the World aims to make a meaningful impact on global health and well-being.
The hospitality industry is becoming increasingly aware of its environmental responsibility and the need to minimize waste. Many hotels have implemented recycling programs specifically designed to collect and process used soaps. These programs ensure that the soap waste is diverted from landfills and instead undergoes a recycling process. The recycled soap can then be transformed into new bars that can be distributed to those in need, contributing to a positive social impact.
Furthermore, some innovative initiatives are repurposing hotel soaps in creative ways. For instance, these soaps can be melted down and used to create hygiene kits for disaster-stricken areas or donated to charitable organizations. By giving a second life to these discarded soaps, we not only reduce waste but also address important hygiene needs in underserved communities.
In conclusion, the afterlife of half-used hotel soaps doesn’t have to end in a landfill. Through sustainable practices like recycling and repurposing, the hospitality industry is taking steps to minimize waste and make a positive impact on both the environment and society. Join us as we explore the inspiring efforts and initiatives aimed at giving these soaps a meaningful second chance.
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