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What’s the most sustainable yet guest-friendly option? Can soap dispensers work in luxury hotels? Is recycling soap and plastic enough? Read on to find out…
With the increasing success of soap recycling projects like the Global Soap Project and Clean the World, it’s apparent that even where hotels are reluctant to use soap dispensers rather than individual amenities, recycling is high on the agenda. In 2013 alone ITP members recycled the equivalent weight of four houses (699,000 kg) in soap and plastic from amenities. That's an impressive 3,986,096 bars and 247,000 kg worth of plastic.
For hotels interested in getting involved, there are a large number of soap and plastic recycling projects to choose from. Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Starwood, Wyndham and some Fairmont properties use Clean the World. Collectively these companies donated over 300,000 kg of soap to the social enterprise last year alone. Click here for more information on Marriott's partnership with Clean the World.
Hilton (and also some Marriott properties) use the Global Soap Project, and have donated approximately 120,000 kg of soap since 2011. Further proving their commitment, Hilton has also invested $1.3 million in financial and operational support to the Global Soap Project.
Some IHG properties in Asia have been involved in pilots for the relatively new Soap for Hope project, which saved 7500 kg of soap from landfill in the last year. And alongside these, individual hotel properties across our member companies work with local charities or recycling organisations to recycle soaps closer to home.
Most soap recycling projects work in a similar way:
Whilst Clean the World and the Global Soap Project are historically US based, both are expanding operations to Europe and Asia. For hotels based in Asia its worth taking a look at Soap for Hope. The Crowne Plaza Changi in Singapore recently worked with the CSR initiative to donate soaps and linens to disaster relief zones and Intercontinental Phnom Penh worked with them to donate soaps to two of the largest local slums.
For more information on why sending soap to deprived communities is important, take a look at Global Handwashing, where you will also find information on Global Handwashing Day coming up in October. Potentially a great day to kick start some soap recycling awareness in your hotel.
Dispensers are greener than individual amenities, even with the above recycling efforts. However, guest preference and hygiene concerns make it hard for some hotels to make the switch. ITP recently worked with TripAdvisor to ask over 8500 consumers what they thought of soap dispensers. Whilst 32% stated they preferred individual amenities, 19% said they liked dispensers because they are better for the environment and only 7% were concerned with hygiene – promising stats for hotels thinking of switching.
Soneva Resorts are one company leading the way when it comes to doing dispensers without undermining the guest experience. Arnfinn Oines, Soneva’s Social and Environmental Conscience, explains:
As Soneva caters for the premium luxury market, there was concern that guests would not accept anything other than individually wrapped room amenities. To avoid this, Soneva’s room amenities such as soap, shampoo and body lotion are offered in beautiful ceramic reusable containers. By incorporating the ceramic containers into the design it looks exclusive and visually appealing for the guests.
'Another concern is the aspect of bacteria growth around the pumps of the dispensing units. To avoid contamination the dispensing units are wiped by housekeeping as part of their daily routine. Any broken pumps are replaced. We have not received any complaints that we are offering our room amenities using ceramic dispensers.'
On top of the clear environmental benefits Soneva have also discovered that using dispensers is eight times cheaper than using individual amenities. In this instance, the more sustainable option also makes better business sense.