This project is a joint partnership between the Phuket Community Foundation, Diversey/Sealed Air, AccorHotels Southern Thailand and the Credit Union Phuket Branch.
The programme’s objective is threefold: to save lives by promoting a cleaner and healthier environment through proper hand-washing with soap; to provide a means of livelihood for local communities through learning a new skill; and to help hotels reduce waste by recycling used or discarded soap. Once used soap is collected from the hotels, it is transported to local communities and the local people re-process the soap using a specially customised cold-press method that requires no running water and electricity. The reconstituted soap bars are then distributed to communities that have limited access to basic hygienic amenities.
“A typical 400-room hotel generates 3.5 metric tons of solid soap waste per year,” says Stefan Phang, Sealed Air’s Director of Sustainability and CSR. “Hand-washing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrhea and respiratory diseases in developing regions. Soap for Hope addresses waste reduction and hygiene enhancement while also generating livelihoods for local communities.”
Soap for Hope was first launched in Cambodia in 2013. Since then it has been implemented in multiple Asian countries and even expanded beyond the region. Soap for Hope is now in 17 cities across 11 countries including Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, China, United Arab Emirates, Kenya and South Africa. Currently, 120 hotels are supporting the programme and more than 160,000 beneficiaries gain free access to soap every year.
AccorHotels Southern Thailand have been gathering leftover soap from both Krabi and Khao Lak as well as Phuket in preparation for the official launch in Phuket on 5 March. A total of nine hotels are supporting this venture and will continue to supply the soap on a monthly basis. The equipment and expertise for making the reconstituted soap are supplied by the CSR Sealed Air. The local people who make and distribute the soap have been brought together by The Phuket Community Foundation and the Credit Union Cooperative, Rassada.
After the opening ceremony, a demonstration of the soap-making process intrigued the audience and enticed Deputy Governor Khun Chokdee Amornwat to have a go at making a bar of soap. The process involves several steps:
Some of the soap will be bought back by the hotels for guest souvenirs, a portion will be given out to communities and schools, and some will be sold at local markets.
A housewives occupation group came to the launch at the Credit Union bank to be trained in the soap-making process and the equipment will be kept at the bank for the ladies to make soap on a regular basis to generate a small income to help support their families. The income for the Community Foundation will go to support the various community projects of the foundation.