HOSPITALITY FOR A BETTER WORLD
Projects like Soap for Hope bring a smile back to children’s faces.
Children at a school in Vietnam receive soap from the Meliá Hanoi hotel’s Soap for Hope programme.
Have you ever stopped and wondered what happens to the soap you use in hotels? In hotel lingo, those two little bars fall under the category of ‘amenities’, and however much you use them, they almost never run out. Do they get thrown away? Do they pollute the environment? This was indeed what happened until very recently, but fortunately it isn’t anymore—at least in the case of the Meliá hotel group.
Nowadays those billions of bars of soaps are no longer thrown away, and instead end up where they’re needed most: often in communities close to the hotels. This is the result of a joint endeavour between the Meliá group and the company Diversey, which provides cleaning and hygiene solutions and sustainability programmes.
‘It’s a pioneering initiative in the hospitality world that’s enjoying great success, and is on track to be implemented in other compatible places such as retirement homes’, says Pascal Jean-Michel, director of Diversey.
Diversey has created the charity project Soap for Hope, which began in 2013 and is currently operating in 31 countries, 94 cities and 380 hotels, and has more than 590,000 beneficiaries every year, who have already received 1,400 tons of reprocessed soap. Through this project, hotel soap is recycled, given new life and delivered in an impeccable state to its new users.
SOAP THAT SAVES LIVES
In countries with scarce resources, infant mortality is due in large part to the spread of disease and, in many cases, inadequate hygiene. These countries are the main beneficiaries of the program. ‘There are many people in the world who don’t have access to personal hygiene products. This soap also contains mosquitorepellent elements’, explains Pascal Jean-Michel, director of Diversey. And the situation at hand is by no means an exaggeration. According to the NGO Water.org, more than seven million children die every year due to diseases that could be prevented by simply washing one’s hands, such as some types of diarrhoea and pneumonia. In contrast to this, each year a hotel with around 400 rooms generates an average of 3.5 tonnes of solid waste from soap. With a single gesture and some goodwill, these shocking figures can become transformative.
‘At Diversey, we choose to work with clients that share our core values, like the Meliá Hotels International group, with whom we’ve been working for more than 40 years’. Subsequently, ‘we select an NGO according to strict ethical standards, in order to ensure that the benefits reach local communities’, and, once it’s selected, ‘we provide the machine for manufacturing soap and the know-how’, says Jean-Michel, adding that ‘the transport of the soap is something that the hotel manages directly with the NGO itself ’.
Through this process, communities that don’t have access to soap receive the supply they need, and also gain a new livelihood by recycling and reprocessing it, whilst hotels are able to meet their sustainability goals by reusing soap that otherwise would have been thrown away, for which they would have had to pay.
IT’S A PERFECT CYCLE
According to the Meliá Hotels International’s VP of Asia Pacific, Bernardo Cabot, ‘the initiative was first started in our Asia Pacific hotels, and the company is expanding to include global properties. Soap for Hope has already been implemented in Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia within Asia Pacific, and is in the process of implementation in the Dominican Republic, which will be followed by Mexico and Cape Verde.
By the end of 2018, our target is to have this programme running in all our Asia Pacific properties, and we are working hard to bring it to as many hotels globally as possible’.
Cabot also adds: ‘At Meliá Hotels International, we want to contribute to the development of the communities in which we operate. Working closely with strategic partners such as Diversey, we aim to create a better world where basic needs are covered in an effective and fair way by adapting hotel operations to our Global CSR Model. The main pillars of our Global CSR policy are Environment, Employability and Child Welfare, and the Soap for Hope programme fits perfectly into this’.
A workshop inHanoi shows children how thissoap is made.