- Published on Wednesday, 23 November 2011 15:16
Written by Tim Svenson
Article Read: 2403
Unlimited access to tiny individually-wrapped soaps is one of the many perks of a hotel stay.
But what happens to soaps that aren't used (or pilfered) during your visit? The answer may surprise you.
More than two million partially used bars of soap are discarded at North American hotels each day, according to the Global Soap Project. Even if hotel soaps haven't been used, quality control standards usually prohibit cleaning staff from reusing the same soaps for multiple guests – especially if the paper wrapping is wet or opened. So, unused and partially used soaps are often destined for the landfill.
But Hilton Worldwide is planning to change all that at its 3750 hotels by partnering with the Global Soap Project to recycle old soaps for a cause. The Atlanta-based nonprofit organisation will collect partially used soaps from Hilton and its subsidiaries, sanitise them and reprocess them into new bars – which are then distributed in developing countries.
Impoverished people around the world die every day from acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease because they have no soap. The death toll is staggering. Each year more than five million lives are lost to these diseases with the majority of deaths being among children less than five years old. Studies have shown that simple hand washing substantially reduces the spread of these diseases. Unfortunately, the essential items for proper hand washing are unobtainable for millions of people worldwide.
Recycling soap eliminates a common hotel waste product and provides free sanitation options for people who are at risk of hygiene-related diseases, said Derreck Kayongo, founder of the Global Soap Project.
"When living as a refugee in Kenya, I realised soap was hard to come by, even completely nonexistent sometimes," Kayongo remembered. "Even when available, those living on less than a dollar a day had to choose between buying food or soap. People were suffering from illness simply because they couldn't wash their hands."
The hotel giant expects their donations to yield 1 million new four-ounce bars of soap in the partnership's first year. In addition to donating soap, Hilton is investing $1.3 million over the next three years to help expand the nonprofit's processing capabilities. The company said it hopes to help the Global Soap Project recycle the high volumes of soap generated by the sector, at zero cost to hotel properties.
The nonprofit is "thrilled" with the partnership and hopes it will empower other hotel companies to recycle their soap to support those in need, Kayongo said. Since its inception in 2009, the Global Soap Project has distributed more than 25 tons of soap in 20 countries across four continents
Support from Hilton Worldwide's team members will be critical to the partnership's success, and the company is excited to provide properties with simple, tangible ways to improve sustainability performance and make a difference in the world. In 2010, more than 1,300 Hilton Worldwide properties donated in-kind products through the company's proprietary sustainability measurement system, LightStay, and the company expects this amount to increase as soap donation opportunities are made available to hotels worldwide. With more than 600,000 team members in 85 countries, the partnership will also directly benefit some of the communities where Hilton Worldwide team members and their families live and work.