According to Bill Duncan, Hilton’s global head, All Suites and Focused Services category, the global hospitality company’s decision to participate in the Clean the World Challenge to collect guests’ discarded soap and recycle it into 1 million bars of new soap by Global Handwashing Day (October 15) is an effort to step up the company’s longstanding commitment to sustainable practices.
In a recent interview with LODGING, Duncan described this particular initiative, which is in partnership with Clean the World, a global health leader that is the largest organization to recycle hotel soap and bath amenities to assist communities in need. He also discussed Hilton’s relationship with that organization, and the steps it has taken over the past decade as part of Travel with Purpose, the company’s corporate responsibility platform.
For those who might think a small bar of soap is a small thing, Duncan places the mission of Clean the World in perspective. “There are 2.3 billion people around the globe who still lack basic sanitation, and 1 million bars of recycled soap will provide 180 million hand washes for communities in need.” He says it is a point of pride that Hilton has been dedicated to supporting the non-profit and its mission for a decade. “During this time, we have become leaders in the global hygiene revolution by engaging our hotels in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic and encouraging them to collect discarded bars of soap.”
Specifically committing to the Clean the World Challenge goal, Duncan says, are the owners and team members of several Hilton brands—Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton, and Home2 Suites by Hilton—who will collect the soap that will be recycled and distributed to communities in need in 127 countries around the globe. “All guests have to do is leave their soap behind, and our team members take care of the rest.”
Duncan says Clean the World’s mission aligns with Travel with Purpose, Hilton’s corporate responsibility platform, which redefines sustainable travel by driving and inspiring positive social and environmental change. “We’ve been focused on redefining the future of sustainable travel with our 2030 Global Goals, which include being the first major hotel company to institute science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions and send zero soap to landfill. As part of Travel with Purpose, Hilton commits to cut our environmental footprint by half and double its social impact investment by 2030.”
Duncan says through their soap-collecting partnership with Clean the World, Hilton has diverted more than 2 million pounds of waste from landfills, resulting in more than 7.6 million bars of recycled soap being donated to communities in need, and ultimately preventing diseases and contributing to a 60 percent reduction in the death rate of children under the age of five dying due to hygiene-related illnesses.
Duncan observes that the company’s stand on matters of sustainability are not lost on guests. “The needs and wants of travelers are ever-evolving, and our guests expect their favorite brands to be responsible and sustainable businesses. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Hilton, social, environmental, and ethical considerations are central to guests’ buying preferences.”