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Finally: A use for discarded hotel soap and shampoo?

Posting in Energy

Take discarded amenities from hotels across the globe, and put it to good use.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the soap, shampoo and hand-wash left in hotel rooms after you've only used a marginal amount?

If you consider how many of these products are discarded each year globally, it is a vast amount of products that most likely end up in landfills -- when they could be put to good use.

At least, that's what the founders of Clean the World believe.

Shawn Seipler and Paul Till originally worked for an e-commerce firm, and were required to travel often and stay in different hotels several days a week. After questioning what happens to all of the free condiments provided by hotels, they called 30 establishments and posted the question itself -- to which the answer they received from every business was the same.

'Nothing'. The destiny of these products was either the garbage or a landfill.

In a world where a high percentage of hygiene-related deaths across the world can be prevented simply by the use of bar soap -- an estimated 3.5 million per year -- this seems like a terrible waste.

Clean the World became established in 2009. The business collects soaps and bottled products from hotels (charging approximately 65 cents per room) and reprocesses the items to be sent around the world.

So far, over 10 million bars of soap have been reprocessed, and distributed to 48 needy countries. According to Gomez, that is approximately 1.4 million pounds of waste that has been diverted from landfill sites.

The soaps and bottles are collected, separated and sent to Orlando for sanitation. The outside of soap bars are scraped away before being treated with an eco-friendly cleaning solution, and then ground up to create soap pellets. After this process, the soap is compressed and cut in to uniform three-ounce squares to be dried.

The company are currently able to manufacture up to 80,000 bars per day in this manner, before sending the recycled soap around the world.

The bottles -- including lotion, shampoo and conditioners -- are either sanitized and distributed (if three quarters of the product remains), or emptied for the plastic bottles to be recycled. These products are distributed to homeless shelters and to groups such as the Salvation Army.

Gomez said that the company is now considering turning the recycled plastics into material for roofing or decks.

"Maybe there will be a Habitat for Humanity house going up somewhere in the world, with a roof made out of hospitality goods."

(via Fast Coexist)

Image credit: The Italian Voice

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure