Every now and then I come across someone, or a company, determined to dramatically change the way we look at a consumable item in a hotel. I have written in the past about Pürlin’s Zero Laundry – Zero Waste Linens and of course most of you are familiar with Clean the World and what it has done with partially used soap.
In some cases, a great idea runs up against numerous factors: lack of funds, not enough infrastructure, competition, or the simple fact that a way of doing things is just too ingrained in the industry. I challenge our industry to keep an open mind and do what it can to support great groundbreaking ideas when they do come along.
This past week I posted an article based on my conversation with Philipp Hangartner, CEO of SWISSFEEL AG. Hangartner’s company is selling a line of foam mattresses, ideal for our industry, that are not thrown away when they have reached “end of hotel life”. These mattresses are simply taken back by SWISSFEEL and laundered and then dried, microwave style, to double the life of the mattress. The mattresses can last another round in a hotel and then be laundered again, for yet a third life. Of course, this keeps the mattresses out of the landfill or incinerator and reduces mattress-related costs significantly. What a great idea.
SWISSFEEL is gaining traction with its mattresses in Europe and has one customer that has already had its mattresses laundered two times. What happens when the mattress has left the room for laundering? SWISSFEEL simply replaces it with a new one until the original is ready to be returned. No room is taken out of inventory.
At the very end of the life of the mattress, SWISSFEEL will take it back for recycling. The foam can be used for pillows or insulation material, for example—extending its life out for many more years.
It does take a special machine—in SWISSFEEL’s case a 15 metric ton machine with a 2.5-meter diameter drum—to launder the mattresses. So yes, for the company’s business model to take off in the U.S. or elsewhere the company needs to reach a critical mass of business to justify the investment in machines, trucks, employees, etc. To me this would work great in Las Vegas where one company alone could justify the investment. The commitment of a large brand or the joining together of individual owners could also make this business model work.
Hangartner had a lifecycle analysis done of his company’s circular business model and found that it saves up to 77 percent of the CO2 emissions associated with the life of a mattress.
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