Making the best of wastes

07-Aug-2019 Intellasia | The Saigon Times | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Wastes can be recycled for the sake of making the most of materials to optimise profits for an enterprise, andin a more noble sense to protect the environment. At Diversey Vietnam, recycling wastes carries even higher values: benefiting the community and improving the poor’s wellbeing. Several initiatives have been launched, and all stakeholders are happy.

Take used soap at hotels as a prominent example. Attendees at a workshop hosted by Premier Village Phu Quoc Resort and Premier Residences Phu Quoc Emerald Bay weeks ago found the solution to used soap highly satisfactory, as the waste brings hope for the poor. It is re-processed rather than discarded, and distributed to poverty-stricken communities across the country, under the Soap-For-Hope programme by Diversey.

The programme pursues a three-fold approach: to save lives by giving free soap to communities that have no or limited access to soap; to provide livelihoods to the local community through soap-recycling; and to help hotels reduce waste and protect the environment.

A typical 400-room hotel generates some 3.5 tonnes of solid soap waste per annum, according to Premier Village Phu Quoc Resort. And just imagine the amount of soap waste discharged a year from all hotels around the country. This is also the starting point for the resort and other hotels to join forces with Diversey Vietnam.

The Soap-For-Hope programme is a global initiative by the US-based Diversey which was first introduced into Vietnam in 2015, says Phuc W. Pham, chief representative of Diversey Vietnam. “We have collaborated with some 30 hotels in Vietnam to run this programme,” he says.

Under the programme, hotels will collect used soap, which should otherwise be discarded after just one or two days’ use, and transfer the batch to Diversey Vietnam. The used soap is then categorised, sterilised, sun-dried and pressed into new bars of soap, using manual tools. During the process, the material can also be added with natural flavors extracted from tea or orange skin to turn out final products with new features before they are distributed to the poor.

Through this process, the local people are able to learn a new skill and make a small livelihood from recycling soap, while at the same time their communities have free access to soap. Diversey as a provider of hygiene solutions offers all the equipment including tools and machine, as well as disinfectant required for re-processing soap. It also covers the logistic costs associated with delivery of the equipment and provides training to local communities and NGOs.

In total, the hotels have diverted 80 tonnes of soap waste from landfills, and have converted these into 660,600 bars of soap distributed to ethnic villages in Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Ha Giang, Dien Bien, Son La, Binh Dinh, Khanh Hoa, and Hoa Binh among others.

Phuc relates how “I have witnessed happy faces upon being given soap, some of them even have never had a bar of soap.”

Asked if Diversey has plans to expand the Soap-For-Hope programme to more hotels, since there are thousands across the country, Phuc says the goal is to collaborate with the parent firm’s partners in Vietnam first. The executive, a Vietnamese-American, says that in the capacity of a representative office, Diversey Vietnam has actively assisted partners in Vietnam to run corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. However, such CSR activities are not limited to the Soap-For-Hope programme alone, as Diversey is also executing other initiatives as well.

“We have also launched the Linens-For-Life programme under a similar mode,” Phuc says.

He explains that bed sheets or towels in a hotel are often disqualified after being washed 150 to 200 times. Under the programme, partner hotels will hand over such items to Diversey, which will have them made into clothes or blankets for poor people, or into bags and other souvenirs for sales right at such hotels with the proceeds going to the poor as well. In this programme, poor tailors, especially crippled ones, will be hired to make such items.

“We also have other initiatives, such as collecting coffee dregs, mixing them with waste paper and processing them into fuels to replace firewood. This product will also be supplied to the poor to help reduce logging to protect the environment,” confides Phuc.

With its prominent initiatives being executed in Vietnam, Diversey is seeking to make the best of wastes, according to Phuc.

At the aforesaid workshop at Premier Village Phu Quoc Resort, Stefan Phang, Diversey’s director for Regional CSR and Sustainability, said: “Soap-For-Hope is a programme that engages the local people directly in helping their own community. Through this programme, we hope to contribute to a cleaner and healthier environment in Vietnam and create shared value for everyone involved our company, our customers and the community.”


Category: Business, Vietnam

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