AMS plans to install Soapstand in Nest to reduce student plastic waste

AMS is planning to install a Soapstand on the main floor of the Nest — nearby Honour Roll — by mid-January next year to help cut down plastic waste.

The Soapstand — a zero-waste refill station created by a Vancouver-based company of the same name — will be set up as a more affordable and convenient option for students to get laundry detergent and to reduce their carbon footprints. Soapstands exist in three grocery stores in Vancouver already, with two more locations opening soon.

Their product — the Mini — has a touchscreen interface which makes it easy to operate. It has five stock keeping units in addition to cashless payment and receipt printing options.

“The idea actually started back in 2015,” said CEO Andy Chou in an interview. “We weren't really all too serious with it until I will say 2018, and then we really saw a potential to expand the idea, which was how can we make the great lifestyle of refill and zero waste into something that is more convenient, into something that is truly accessible to everyone else.”

In a follow-up email to The Ubyssey, Chou said each Soapstand station are targeting to reduce 4,000 single-use containers on average per year. “Right now we can't share our stats but what I can say is that our pilot stations have mitigated thousands so far.”

AMS VP Administration Lauren Benson said the Soapstand — which will cost $6,000 to install — will provide a cheaper and more eco-friendly laundry detergent option for students.

“It is an investment that will be here for many years and it saves money for students,” she said. “And any revenue created by the Soapstand will go back to [AMS] sustainability operations.”

Benson said that she doesn’t anticipate long lines from the station to disrupt other activities in the Nest. “My team, my sustainability project coordinator and my [associate vice-president] sustainability will also check on the machine,” she added.

When asked how many students would benefit from the Soapstand, Benson said that she didn’t have any numbers yet, but that past sustainable projects — like the pilot Drinkfill service in 2018/19 — were popular with students.

“So, we are confident that in a more centralized area like the Nest, that Soapstand should do quite well.”