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The Voice of Better Neighborhoods Everywhere

Stefan Phang: Director, Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility, Sealed Air Corporation

Stefan Phang: Director, Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility, Sealed Air Corporation

Sealed Air’s new CSR project aims to improve hygiene conditions in poor communities while supporting the local population by providing a means of livelihood. Hotelier finds out more. 

Sealed Air’s new CSR project aims to improve hygiene conditions in poor communities while supporting the local population by providing a means of livelihood. Hotelier finds out more.

Impoverished communities in countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, and Kenya are benefiting from improved personal hygiene due to a collaboration between hotels and Sealed Air.

The cleaning and sanitation solutions provider launched the Soap for Hope campaign in October 2013 to recycle used hotel guest soap and distribute it to underprivileged families living in slums in Asia.

 

The Objective
The Soap for Hope project has a three-fold objective. Firstly, it saves lives by improving hygiene through provision of soap to people that need it but have no access to it; for example, those who live or work near to rubbish dumps.

Other objectives are providing a means of livelihood for local communities by getting them involved in the recycling and production process; and helping hotels reduce waste by turning discarded soap into something useful.
Stefan Phang, global director, corporate social responsibility Sealed Air Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Africa & Turkey, says: “A typical 400-room hotel generates 3.5 metric tonnes of solid soap waste per annum.

“Hand-washing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrheal and respiratory diseases in the Asia, Middle East and African regions where seven million children per year die due to diseases that could have been prevented with proper hand-washing. Therefore, the Soap for Hope project is about recycling tonnes of used soap and channeling them to those in need.”

 

Concept and Investment
Soap for Hope aims to establish a new type of corporate social responsibility programme that creates shared value for communities through engagement with local businesses. The idea is that companies should create shared value for society and not economic value for their own sake. Part of the strategy is that businesses are the most powerful force for addressing pressing issues in society, given that governments and NGOs lack sufficient resources and capabilities to address them alone.

One of the most impactful improvements the Soap for Hope initiative is expected to achieve is to engage people in local communities in the process of making soap. The soap is collected from hotels by Sealed Air and transported to towns, where the local population is taught to recycle or process the used soap.

“Once the used soap is recycled into processed bars of soap, the hotels then buy back the soap and re-distribute it to the wider community,” explains Phang.

“Through this process, local people learn the skill of recycling and making soap and how to make a livelihood out of this. Sealed Air employees provide the know-how, set-up and the training on soap recycling to the local communities.”

“The innovation is in the cold-press method that enables the start-up and logistics costs to be kept very low. The local community can operate the soap-making process in their backyard as opposed to a typical, industrial soap-reprocessing plant. The cold-press method does not require any electricity; hence it is carbon-neutral. By engaging the local people directly in a project that benefits their own community, Sealed Air hopes to give them a sense of pride and ownership,” he adds.

 

 

Source: Case study: Soap for hope

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