M Style - - Contents - Text: ED­I­TO­RIAL DEPART­MENT

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.


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.


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.

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