Causes Week 2016: Online platform helps channel items from hotels to charities

(From left) Papayapaths' Ms Boutin-Becuwe and SCWO staff Elena Karim, Amanda Ho, Denise Balhetcher, Rosabella Ann Renee Robert and Elaine Danielle Juan with the tables SCWO received from Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen.
(From left) Papayapaths' Ms Boutin-Becuwe and SCWO staff Elena Karim, Amanda Ho, Denise Balhetcher, Rosabella Ann Renee Robert and Elaine Danielle Juan with the tables SCWO received from Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

In our annual Causes Week, back for its fifth year, we spotlight individuals and groups that are making a difference in the community, and look at how others might pitch in too.

When the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations (SCWO) wanted new tables for its training room and cafe, it got them the free and easy way. A new online platform matched the charity to the Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen hotel, which had tables to give away.

Launched by local social enterprise Papayapaths, the H3Rs Giveaways Programme channels items donated by hotels towards charities, non-governmental organisations and social enterprises. H3Rs stands for Hotels Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

SCWO marketing and public relations executive Amanda Ho, 35, said: "In the past, when we needed furniture, say, for shelter residents who were going to be relocated, we would usually just blast it out in our newsletter and maybe on Facebook.

"The platform helps a lot because we can just go to the website and see what is available."

The programme is the brainchild of Papayapaths co-founder Muriel Boutin-Becuwe, 48, a French national who came to Singapore in 2004.

Alarmed by the growing burden of waste on the environment, the permanent resident decided to take the plunge and tackle the issue.

She left her job as a project manager with a multinational corporation to set up Papayapaths, a social enterprise which would help make the hospitality industry greener.

Ms Boutin-Becuwe's team spoke to hotels and organisations, and realised that most yearned to be more sustainable and reduce wastage but lacked an outlet.

She said: "We spotted an opportunity to collaborate with the hospitality industry to create a practical and socially beneficial solution for waste diversion."

Using the platform is simple: Hotels are invited to list items they wish to donate - which could include anything from beds to leftover stationery. Participating charity organisations may post their requests. Both hotels and charities receive an e-mail whenever new items or requests are posted, ensuring that all parties are kept in the loop.

The platform therefore matches the donations with the corresponding requests, giving a new lease of life to items which would otherwise be discarded.

Papayapaths has conducted two successful week-long pilot programmes, during which two tonnes of items were given to the needy.

Over the past year, more than 100 hotels and charity organisations have expressed an interest in the platform, which Ms Boutin-Becuwe believes will save at least 100 tonnes of items over the next three years. It has also won the support of The Food Bank Singapore and the National Environment Agency.

Mr Kevin Teng, executive director of sustainability at Marina Bay Sands (MBS), said: "Marina Bay Sands is always looking for opportunities to donate leftover items to charity and the H3Rs Giveaways Programme makes it even easier for us to do so."

MBS has donated some of its furniture to Babes Pregnancy Crisis Support, which helps teen mothers, and plans to use the platform as a strategic part of its waste management planning for next year.

Said Mr Teng: "The platform effectively complements our waste management strategy... At the same time, it allows us to support a good cause."

• For more information on the H3Rs Giveaways Programme, visit www.papayapaths.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 06, 2016, with the headline 'Online platform helps channel items from hotels to charities'. Print Edition | Subscribe