A Haitian program to recycle used soap bars from luxury hotels has proven a win-win-win proposition, reducing waste, helping fight water-borne disease and giving employees like Magoiana Fremond the chance to send her kids to school and let them “eat every day.”
The project, simple but effective, has had a remarkable impact.
Laure Bottinelli discovered the idea of soap recycling while spending time in Southeast Asia. Inspired to try something similar in Haiti, she and two associates in January last year created the Anacaona company, Haiti’s first and only soap-recycling enterprise.
They have already enlisted 25 hotels in the plan, in both Port-au-Prince and Jacmel, a weekend destination for many foreigners living in the capital.
“In Haiti, nothing is ever wasted: Poverty is such that everything is recovered, reused in one way or another,” said Mai Cardozo Stefanson, part of the management team at Montana, a luxury hotel in Port-au-Prince. “Normally, the staff saves the soap for their own use, but now they collect used bars and give them to Laure. In return, they receive clean, reconditioned soap bars.”
“With the cholera crisis we’re facing, there is the aspect of hygiene education,” she said, another part of the work done by Anacaona.
Used soap bars collected from hotel rooms are shredded and melted before being reconditioned, jobs Anacaona’s three employees divide among themselves.
“I didn’t come back to Haiti to set up just one more NGO [non-governmental organization],” said Bottinelli, a company head at the tender age of 28.
While some employees do not know how to read the contracts Anacaona gives them, “we have explained to them what a work contract means, that there are rules to be respected, but also rights protecting them.”
In a country where informality is the norm, she likes to point out that her company is properly registered with commercial and tax authorities.
The new soaps are made using only natural Haitian products and are wrapped in biodegradable paper: The small company aspires to social responsibility and prefers hiring single mothers.
“I can’t deny it, the Good Lord brought us this job,” said Fremond, carefully wrapping a soap bar.
Before, she could not afford to send her five kids to school, provide them food and pay the rent.
“Anacaona helps the country and me, a lot. My children are in school, they eat every day. Before, I rented an apartment, but now I’ve started building a house,” she added with a proud smile.
While the first orders for Haitian soaps were sent to French beauty label Yves Rocher, the recycling project now is able to distribute part of its own production to partner schools in Jacmel.
The small company, still in the development stage, is also playing a part in reducing water-borne disease in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas.
With 72 percent of Haitians lacking indoor toilets, the cholera epidemic that started in 2010 has spread across the country, killing nearly 10,000 people. The lack of potable water has made diarrheal diseases a leading cause of infant mortality, the WHO said.
Anacaona works with its partner schools to be sure they teach basic hygiene rules to their students. In the Cite Soleil, the Caribbean’s most densely populated slum, the company pays community workers to spread that message. With questionnaires in hand, these “hygiene ambassadors” crisscross their neighborhoods, knocking on the doors of every rusty sheet-metal shanty they encounter to first assess the inhabitants’ sanitary habits and then share the essential rules of good health.
“Now, every time people see me in the neighborhood, they think about the advice I gave them,” said Judeline Joseph, 25, with a laugh. “Sometimes they don’t have the money to buy what you need to treat the water, but some of them simply forget to take precautions — so we are really doing something useful.”
PRESSURE FROM THE US: Huawei said a decision by the US was ‘arbitrary and pernicious, and threatens to undermine the entire [technology] industry worldwide’ Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) has stopped new orders from Huawei Technologies Co (華為) in response to Washington’s move aimed at further limiting chip supplies to the Chinese company, the Nikkei reported yesterday, citing multiple sources. The orders that TSMC took before the new ban and those that were already in production are not affected, and could continue to proceed if those chips could be shipped before the middle of September, the report said. TSMC, the world’s biggest contract chipmaker and a key Huawei supplier, on Thursday last week announced plans to build a US-based plant and on Friday added that
MediaTek Inc (聯發科), which designs chips used in mobile phones, yesterday launched its new 5G Dimensity 820 system-on-chip (SoC), targeting mid-range to high-end smartphones. The company expects the penetration of 5G technology to gain pace quickly this year and not be affected too much by the COVID-19 pandemic. MediaTek said it aims to expand its 5G chip portfolio this year to cover phones of varying prices after it shipped its first 5G SoC, the Dimensity 1000, last quarter. The Dimensity 820, made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) on 7-nanometer technology, is designed for mid-range to high-end 5G phones. MediaTek expects to infiltrate the
TV and online retailer Momo.com Inc (富邦媒體) yesterday said it has set up a new logistics subsidiary, Fu Sheng Logistics Co (富昇物流), to oversee the company’s extensive shipping operations. Leveraging Momo’s 23 satellite warehouses and distribution centers nationwide, Fu Sheng will be in charge of executing the retailer’s same-day shipment plan for deliveries in Taipei, New Taipei City, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung, Momo said in a press release. Seeking to further shorten its supply chain, the company is to set up another seven satellite warehouses and distribution centers by the end of the year. “Fu Sheng has a fleet of 200 couriers
US-CHINA TENSIONS: The company said that it supplies self-designed chips to the Chinese company and, as such, is not affected by the latest US export restrictions Macronix International Co (旺宏電子) said it does not expect its shipments of memory chips to Huawei Technologies Co (華為) to be affected by the latest US export restrictions on the Chinese tech giant. “As long as the company [Huawei] places orders, we will ship [chips], unless the [Taiwanese] government restricts all Taiwanese companies from shipping” to Huawei, Macronix chairman and chief executive officer Miin Wu (吳敏求) said on Monday in Hsinchu. The US Department of Commerce on Friday took a further step to block chip supplies from non-US companies to Huawei by requiring foreign semiconductor makers to get US government permission before