OTTAWA, ON—What is the life cycle of a used bar of hotel soap? This frequently discarded item could end up in a landfill, or it could go on a life-saving mission to underserved areas around the world.
The unlikely hero is playing a starring role in an initiative that aims to change lives by providing education to people at risk for hygiene-related illnesses. After the launch of its partnership in Canada in 2015, Green Key Global and Clean the World have teamed up to promote soap recycling to hotels in the U.S.
Green Key Global, an environmental certification body, offers a slate of sustainability programs, including its Green Key Eco-Rating Program. Clean the World’s goal is to save lives globally, while diverting hotel waste from landfills. There’s inherent value in their shared commonality.
“We are in 2,000 properties and 30 countries around the world, and in Canada with 1,300 properties. When we entered the partnership with Clean the World, there were two factors: getting soap and hygiene kits to people who need it and the environmental component,” said Tony Pollard, managing director, Green Key Global. “Anything we can do to recycle or keep things out of landfills is beneficial. It was really a win-win opportunity and we are delighted to work with Clean the World.”
Sustainability efforts are nothing new as the greening of the hotel industry has been ongoing—been there, done that. What makes this program fresh is the ability to create new avenues to effect change on a large scale through soap distribution, hygiene education and massive action in the hotel industry.
“We are helping the community with a product we already have. We are helping women’s shelters, veterans groups and people who are down and out and, at the same time, our program is an environmental one. It is the way to move forward,” Pollard said.
“Since 2009, Clean the World has distributed more than 31 million soap bars and 1.5 million hygiene kits around the globe,” said Shawn Seipler, founder and CEO, Clean the World. “The exciting partnership with Green Key provides an opportunity to help even more people by introducing additional hotels to our soap and bottled amenity recycling program.”
According to Pollard, the ability to make a substantial impact is real when you look at the number of hotel toiletries that are thrown out over the course of a year.
“If a hotel runs about 65% occupancy and you multiply that by 365 days a year, there’s a significant accumulation of soap, shampoo and conditioner that is being thrown out. We realized that in working with Clean the World, they would be able to distribute the soap bars and hygiene kits to those in need,” he said.
It’s simple to get involved: Hoteliers can enroll online and Clean the World will send collection bins. Hotel staff can then begin gathering discarded soaps and plastic bottles. Once the bins are half full, the organization will send the hotel shipping labels and new bins to keep the collections going.
Green Key Global will encourage hoteliers to take part in the joint initiative and then show them how to realize the rewards of these efforts, such as reducing costs and marketing programs.
“The reduction of costs by virtue of participating with Green Key and the cost savings for a hotel to donate these products to other groups is something a hotelier can be proud of and promote as a mission to serve all clients,” he said.