Shangri-La partners Diversey to upcycle hotel linen into half-a-million reusable face masks

Vulnerable members in communities across 12 cities in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka will soon have greater access to reusable face masks with the regional Linens For Life Face Masks (L4LFM) partnership between Shangri-La Group and Diversey, a leading global hygiene solutions provider.

As part of the L4LFM programme, the 12,500kg of used linen donated by 21 Shangri-La hotels will be repurposed into reusable fabric face masks by local Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in twelve destinations including Colombo, Hambantota, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Penang, Jakarta, Surabaya, Manila, Cebu, Singapore, Bangkok and Yangon.

The half-a-million face masks will subsequently be distributed to local communities in need, providing vulnerable members of society with a basic piece of protection that is now mandatory in many countries in the global fight against COVID-19, including in Sri Lanka when one is out in public.

In Sri Lanka, the Group and Diversey is looking to contribute up to 17,000 reusable face masks for communities in need during this period, by repurposing clean but used bedsheets, duvet covers and pillowcases into face masks. Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa, collaborated with individuals from the area to make these masks under the guidance of the resort team, and in turn also supported the livelihood of these persons. As part of this project, 1000 finished masks we handed over to Dehigahalanda School in rural Hambantota. Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo has joined hands with the Embodhi Foundation, an NGO focusing on empowering women in need, who in turn will receive an additional source of income from the sewing of face masks.

The upcycling of clean, used linen into face masks also provides Shangri-La a meaningful way to help reduce environmental wastage. If new linen was produced to manufacture this quantity of fabric masks, it would have incurred 60 million litres of water (the equivalent of 23 Olympic-size swimming pools) and a carbon footprint of 150 tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 63,000 litres of petrol being combusted*.

Mr. Chan Kong Leong, Regional CEO for Shangri-La Group in Southeast Asia & Australasia, said: “At Shangri-La, we have dedicated our last 50 years to caring for our guests, colleagues and local communities. Just as we have elevated our cleaning and safety protocols in our hotels as part of our “Shangri-La Cares” commitment to our guests and colleagues, we are heartened to be able to continue helping and caring for the communities around us throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The Linens For Life Face Masks programme provides clear health, social and environmental benefits for communities during these challenging times. Not only does it give our used hotel linen a new lease of life, it also provides the most vulnerable with a basic piece of protection and helps sustain livelihoods.”

Mr. Brijesh Rathore, Vice-President, Diversey Asia-Pacific Global Strategic Accounts said: “One of Diversey’s global priorities is to support local communities, particularly during COVID-19. The Linens for Life Face Masks Programme is a great example of how Diversey, together with our customer hotels and partner NGOs, are providing simple hygiene items to those who really need them and helping to prevent the spread of infection.”

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shangri-La Hotels across the region have continuously sought out opportunities to help their local communities and to uplift spirits – from donating essential items such as groceries to local communities across Southeast Asia and Australasia, to preparing fresh meats and donating personal protection equipment to courageous frontline workers.

With hygiene and safety being top-of-mind for many, the Shangri-La Group has recently introduced its “Shangri-La Cares” commitment, reinforcing the Group’s efforts to caring for people as we begin welcoming guests back to our hotels and resorts. As part of its ongoing efforts to create a trusted and nurturing environment for guests, the Group has partnered Diversey to implement a series of safety standards and precautionary measures across its hotels.

Shangri-La’s partnership with Diversey on the L4LFM programme builds on the successful Soap For Hope collaboration between the two entities globally, which has seen 427 tonnes of hotel soap slivers recycled into 3.5 million new soap bars for at-risk communities over the past three years. For more information on how Shangri-La Group is caring for local communities, please visit our Corporate Social Responsibility blog here.

*The environmental impact figures are gleaned from an independent study by Metabolic in The Netherlands – The figures are taken from the life cycle analysis of cotton and poly-cotton linen and cotton towels used in top hotel chains.