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Would You Give Up the Bar of Soap in Your Hotel Room?

Patrick Boshell
May 19, 2015

hotelsoap-2Did you know that 1.5 million bars of soap are discarded every day from hotel rooms across the United States?  Unfortunately, the same problem exists for those small bottles of half empty shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotions.


The majority of hotels in North America have no recycling program in place for these amenities, which means that potentially millions of plastic bottles end up in  landfills each year.  When you consider there are more than 5.3 million hotel rooms in North America, you quickly get a sense of how much waste is being generated. 


$10,512 in Savings for 300-Room Hotel

The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) conducted a study to determine the financial impact of implementing an amenity dispenser program.  The AHLA study was based on each guest room having two dispensers including one for the shower and the other in the sink area.  The business case focused on the potential opportunity to lower amenity costs, reduce waste such as plastic bottles and the leftover product, along with some added housekeeping efficiencies. 



In addition to conservation, the program offered a number of advantages including the fact that dispensed amenities were less expensive to purchase than products in individual containers.  Housekeeping did not have to replace the amenity bottles after each guest and dispenser product typically only had to be replaced about once per week.


In the end, a 300-room hotel averaging 60% occupancy would save $10,512 annually in product, labor and water savings - not to mention the significant reduction in waste.  As a lot of amenity options are available from economical to luxurious, this is becoming a growing trend among some prominent hotel chains. A similar offering now exists for the soap dispensers. Also, dispensers can be customized to a room's decor or hotel branding to ensure the guests experience is always positive.


Bulk Contamination Issues

One of the main challenges being faced by hotels using bulk or refillable dispensers is contamination.  As bulk dispensers are open to the environment, and it's not easy for maintenance to clean them properly on each refill - they become a breeding ground for bacteria.  As new soap is added, it also becomes contaminated and ultimately puts the hotel room guest at risk.  Also, as guests use the dispenser, its surface becomes contaminated with bacteria such as fecal matter, mold or fungi can grow if not being cleaned and maintained properly. 


A preferred solution to overcome these challenges is to use a sealed dispenser system that can be easily replaced by housekeeping.  Silver ion technology is used in Deb dispensers, which effectively reduces bacteria, mold and fungi on the dispenser surface and push button.  According to testing, a 99.99% reduction can be achieved over a 24-hour period.  As Deb dispensers are guaranteed for life and can be easily repaired without tools, it's becoming easier for hotels to make the switch in favor of both environmental and cost savings. 


Water Savings

Another reason more hotels are switching to sealed dispenser systems is the water savings.  By using an EcoLogo, Green Seal or EU Ecolabel certified foam product as an alternative to liquid soap, 36% less product and 16 to45% less water is used per hand wash. Now just imagine just how much those 5.3 million hotel guest rooms in North America would save each year in water savings by making this one little switch.


Consumer Preference Vs. Conservation

It seems more hotels are willing to make the change to sealed dispenser systems in the name of conservation and sustainability.  Not to mention, having a solution such as sealed dispenser systems saves money and time for housekeeping.


The question is,  are hotel guests willing to give up their bars of soap and bottles of shampoo and conditioner? Many people are resistant to change and have preferences based on their previous experiences or desire for personal comforts.  On the other hand, more and more people are using their towel twice or taking other steps to ensure they are following green initiatives when staying at their favorite hotel.


Are you willing to give up your bar of soap and bottle amenities to support conservation and sustainability initiatives? Please cast your vote and use the comments section below to share your feedback.  We'll be sure to share the results in the weeks ahead.




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