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BC SoftWear tackles flip flop mountain

Leading hotel and spa textiles and flip flop supplier BC SoftWear has launched a unique recycling initiative to help tackle the flip flop mountain that sees billions of pairs thrown away every year.

Flip flops are an essential part of the guest experience, but they’re also a significant contributor to plastic waste – if guests don’t take them home, hotels and spas have little option but to throw flip flops away, meaning they end up in landfill. Until recently, flip flop recycling hasn’t been widely available. BC SoftWear has now partnered with waste management organisation, First Mile, as well as ethical textiles recycling business, Reskinned, to give its hotel and spa partners a more sustainable option. BC SoftWear CEO and founder, Barbara Cooke says: “We supply approximately three million pairs of footwear per year and are all too aware of the impact that has on the environment. We’re delighted to be piloting a new scheme with the Exclusive Hotels Collection to collect, recycle and re-purpose all their discarded flip flops.” First Mile arranges the collection of discarded flip flops from Pennyhill Park and South Lodge in ultra-low emission electric vehicles. Reskinned then links waste management with new technology to recycle flips flops.

“Through the innovation of these two companies, our flip flops, once they’ve been used by hotel and spa guests, will go on to live another life,” says Cooke. “It’s our way of supporting the circular economy, offering a solution to the serious issue that is flip flop mountain.”

Ross Barry, co-founder of Reskinned, explains that the flips flops are granulated down alongside wellington boots and turned into surfacing for playgrounds and equine sand schools. They have already collected five pallet boxes of flip flops weighing 825kg, around 40,000 pairs.

These BC Softwear flip flops will not end up in landfill

Charlene Phipp, spa manager at pilot site Pennyhill Park says: “We always knew one of the biggest challenges we faced was single use flip flops because we go through a lot, up to 400 a day. BC SoftWear’s recycling initiative is the first practical solution we’ve found, and so far it’s working amazingly well. A lot of our guests ask what we do with discarded flip flops and assume they’ll just be thrown away. It’s great to be able to reassure them we have an environmentally sound solution.”

BC SoftWear’s other sustainable initiatives include solar power and recycled water in its manufacturing processes, minimising plastic wrap in its warehousing, as well as product innovations, such as biodegradable slippers.

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