BC Softwear to tackle ‘flip-flop mountain’ with new sustainable initiative

By Lauren Heath-Jones


By Lauren Heath-Jones

30 August 2022

Luxury spa linen and footwear supplier BC Softwear has launched a new sustainability initiative that aims to combat flip-flop waste in spas. 

BC Softwear supplies millions of pairs of flip-flops to spas annually, most of which end up in landfill after use. In order to reduce the environmental impact, the company has partnered with waste management organisation First Mile, and ethical textile recycling firm Reskinned, to offer its spa and hotel partners a more sustainable option.

“We’re committed to running our business in the most sustainable way possible,” said BC Softwear founder and CEO  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 Collection to collect, recycle and repurpose their discarded flip-flops.” 

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Circular economy

The scheme is currently being pilotted at two Exclusive Collection hotels in the UK – Pennyhill Park in Surrey and South Lodge in West Sussex. 

Discarded flip-flops are collected by First Mile in ultra-low emission electric vehicles, before Reskinned uses new technology to recycle them into surfaces for children’s playgrounds or horse manèges. 

Commenting on the partnership, Cooke said: “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. It’s our way of supporting the circular economy, offering a solution to the serious issue that is flip-flop mountain.” 

“We’re delighted to be piloting a new scheme with the Exclusive Collection to collect, recycle and repurpose their discarded flip-flops.”

Barbara Cooke

Founder and CEO, BC Softwear

Reskinned co-founder Ross Barry, said: “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 flip-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.”

Practical solution 

Pennyhill Park spa manager Charlene Phipp, said:  “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 pairs 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.”

This initiative is the latest of several sustainable developments for BC Softwear, which include using recycled water and solar power in its manufacturing processes, as well as reducing the use of plastic wrap in its warehousing and product innovations, such as biodegradable slippers.

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