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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 new flip flop 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 in hotels and spas, 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.

“We are committed to running our business in the most sustainable way possible,” explains BC SoftWear CEO and founder, Barbara Cooke. “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.”

While 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 the flips flops, so they can be turned into surfaces for children’s playgrounds or equine menages.

“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, says:

“BC SoftWear contacted us looking for a sustainable solution for their flip flops. We’ve worked with them to create a closed loop system – their flips flops are granulated down alongside wellington boots so they can be turned into surfacing for playgrounds and equine sand schools. We have already collected five pallet boxes of flip flops weighing 825kg – that’s about 40,000 pairs.”

Charlene Phipp, spa manager at pilot site Pennyhill Park says:

“As the first hotel group to become B-Corp certified, our sustainability credentials are a huge part of what we do. 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.”

Some of 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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