How does it all work?
The process is simpler than you’d think. Hotels that partner with Clean the World pay the company 50 cents per room per month to have soaps recycled. CTW provides bins, pickup, delivery, shipping, and training to the housekeeping staff. The staff separates out the soap and puts the bars in a bin. CTW then trucks the bins to one of the company’s processing plants.
The first and largest plant is in Orlando; others are in Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Montreal and India. The bins arrive in the giant, fragrant warehouses. There the hotel soaps meet reject soaps from cosmetics bigwigs like Unilever. Workers then melt down the soap, reform it, and pack the new bars into boxes that they send to NGOs and charities like the Red Cross and Salvation Army.
Clean the World also works with hotels to recycle those partially used shampoo, conditioner, and body wash bottles. At the warehouse, the bottles are examined -- usually by one of 20,000 CTW volunteers -- to see if they’re over three-quarters full. If so, the bottles are cleaned and included in hygiene kits along with toothbrushes, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, and other items, then sent to homeless shelters around the world. Empty bottles get recycled.
Repeated enough times, over enough of your hotel stays, the numbers get pretty staggering. Last year Clean the World sent out 400,000 hygiene kits and made more than 7 million bars of soap, including half a million bars for Haiti and the Bahamas after Hurricane Matthew.
The company's move to recycle soap seven years ago has tracked with a worldwide decline in the number of child deaths. Still, something like 16,000 children under the age of 5 die every day, a quarter of whom are succumbing to pneumonia and diarrhea.
“That’s still about one every 15 seconds,” Seipler point out. “So we still have a lot of work to do.”