By Roger Yu, USA TODAY
Ever wonder what happens to leftover soap and shampoo at hotels? Most are thrown away. About 1 million partly used bars of soap are tossed out daily by U.S. hotels, according to Clean the World Foundation, a non-profit organization that recycles used soap for distribution to developing nations and homeless shelters.
But recycling organizations such as Clean the World, based in Orlando, and Global Soap Project, based in Atlanta, are starting to get more attention from large hotel companies.
Clean the World said last week that it reached an agreement with Starwood Hotels to recycle soap, shampoo and lotion. They estimate about 1.6 million pounds of soap may be recycled each year because Starwood has about 176,000 rooms in North America. Starwood runs Westin, Sheraton and other hotel chains.
Clean the World has had collection deals with about 1,000 individual hotels, including about 100 Marriotts and 80 Hiltons. Some properties run by Carlson, Wyndham, Hyatt and Joie de Vivre Hotels also donate to the organization. But the Starwood partnership is its first corporate wide agreement with a large hotel company.
Clean the World charges hotels 65 cents a room to clean and redistribute soap and shampoo bottles. Its business has been growing so fast that it's creating a for-profit operation to raise money. The foundation will retain its non-profit status and continue to distribute reprocessed soap. But its for-profit Clean the World Global arm will sell its services to hotels. "It will allow us to get the capital we need to open local (recycling) centers. We really need that capital to grow," says Shawn Seipler, founder of Clean the World.
Since its founding two years ago, Clean the World says it has distributed more than 8 million bars of soap in the U.S. and more than 40 countries, including Haiti, Japan, Zimbabwe, Uganda, India and Mexico. It estimates its efforts have diverted about 550 tons of waste from polluting landfills in the U.S. and Canada. Each day, 9,000 children die from diseases that can be prevented by washing with soap, the organization says.
Seipler and co-founder Paul Till were corporate salesmen before quitting their jobs to embrace the cause. "I was staying at hotels four nights a week," Seipler says. "I started asking, 'What's going on with soap and bottles?' "
They started collecting soap from 80 Orlando hotels and have since built recycling centers in Orlando, Las Vegas, Vancouver and Toronto.
Clean the World provides bins for housekeeping staff to deposit soap, shampoo and lotion bottles. The bottles are taken to a recycling plant, where soap is sterilized and reformed into 2-ounce bars.
Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Office of Sustainability
Office - (954) 828-5785 Fax - (954) 828-4745