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Clean the World's Shawn Seipler Reflects on IHG Deal, Nonprofit's Dramatic Growth



ORLANDO—On the heels of InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) announcement that it would partner with Clean the World—potentially adding 3,274 properties to Clean the World’s 1,400 hospitality partners—Green Lodging News spoke with Clean the World’s co-founder and CEO, Shawn Seipler, about the impact of the partnership.

“It means a number of things,” said Seipler, whose organization recycles and donates partially used soap and amenities to those in need around the world. “It is another major chain on board with us. It demonstrates continued acceptance of our program by the industry. In the first year of our partnership with Starwood, we added 50,000 of their guestrooms—30 percent of their total guestrooms—to our program. With IHG, if we can pick up 30 percent of their rooms in the first year, we will add from 125,000 to 150,000 rooms to our program.”

There are currently 300,000 hotel rooms participating in Clean the World. One year of IHG on board could grow it by 50 percent. It was just three years ago—actually more like 2.5 years once things were up and running—that Seipler and Paul Till, Clean the World’s other co-founder—began collecting and processing soap for redistribution. In 2010, Clean the World grew by 477 percent. Last year it grew by another 200 percent.

Percentage of Industry On Board

With 4.6 million hotel rooms in the United States, Clean the World currently has about 7 percent of them participating in its program. Adding in the new IHG properties, that total could grow to as much as 14 percent in another year. If Clean the World were to get other large companies such as Wyndham Worldwide, Hyatt Corp. and Marriott International on board, that percentage would jump dramatically.

Ironically, it was while staying at an IHG property—a Holiday Inn in Minneapolis—where Seipler was inspired to launch Clean the World when he saw how much soap and amenities were wasted. At the time of the IHG announcement, there were about 70 IHG properties already working with Clean the World. Since then, just 10 days ago, 10 additional IHG hotels have signed on to the program.

Seipler says Clean the World fits nicely into IHG’s Green Engage program. Green Engage is a comprehensive online sustainability system which measures, manages and reports on the conservation efforts of individual properties within the IHG family of brands. Through Green Engage, IHG has set a goal of reducing solid waste by 50 percent for each participating hotel.

Busy Work Begins

With the IHG partnership finalized, Clean the World is working to contact individual IHG hotels. “We have a customized IHG sign-up form,” Seipler says. “Participants can read about the program and have access to all the materials they need. For those properties that choose to participate, we will send out collection bins for the soap and amenities. We will also set up webinars to help explain our program.”

Key to the success of Clean the World, Seipler says, is making the participation process as easy and simple as possible. “It is as turnkey as it possibly could be,” he says.

Clean the World, which currently has 30 employees, has shipping and receiving hubs in Orlando, Las Vegas and Toronto. While a new facility in Cincinnati is a possibility, Seipler says the next facility to open will be somewhere in Western Europe. That announcement will be made in the next 60 days.

Mission Trips on the Increase

Meanwhile, teams of volunteers continue to take mission trips to distribute soap bars newly created from partially used soap collected from lodging establishments throughout North America. A group of Starwood employees just recently returned from a trip to Guatemala where they distributed more than 10,000 bars of soap to those living in orphanages and impoverished areas. About 15 to 20 mission trips have been conducted so far.

Seipler says that no matter where hoteliers happen to donate soap and amenities, he would like the act of recycling soap and plastic bottles to become a standard in hotels.

Clean the World has looked at collecting other items from hotels—linens and partially used toilet paper rolls, for example—but soap and amenities have turned out to be the most practical to collect, process and distribute.

Reflecting back on the day he and Paul Till founded Clean the World, Seipler says he is amazed at how quickly and dramatically the organization has grown.

“We have distributed more than 10 million bars of soap,” Seipler says. “We have 40,000 rooms on the Las Vegas strip alone. We thought about how big it could be but we never imagined that it could grow this fast.”

Go to Clean the World.

This article first appeared on the Green Lodging News website. To sign up to receive the weekly Green Lodging News newsletter, go to www.greenlodgingnews.com. Glenn Hasek, the article’s author, can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.


Contact:

Glenn Hasek, Publisher & Editor
Green Lodging News
(440) 243-2055; Mobile: (216) 702-0334
editor@greenlodgingnews.com

 


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