American Cleaning Institute - For Better Living
CleaningMatters logo sm September/October 2011

Small Bars Make a Big Impact

How Clean the World recycles soap and saves lives

The little things in life can often make the biggest impact. Think about those small bars of soap and mini bottles of shampoo that are found in every hotel guest room. When guests check out, what happens to them? Every day in North America, thousands of hotels discard millions of pounds of leftover soap and shampoo. These products often end up in already overflowing landfills.

But an organization called Clean the World has come up with a solution that saves lives. "We're very excited about Clean the World from a social sustainability perspective," says Nancy Bock, Vice President of Consumer Education at the American Cleaning Institute®. Clean the World ( accomplishes this mission by collecting, sorting and sanitizing discarded soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions and gels from participating hotel and resort properties.

The Process
Clean the World provides hospitality partners with bins for the housekeeping staff to deposit collected soap and shampoo bottles. These bins are picked up weekly by Clean the World staff or logistics partners and are transported to Clean the World Recycling Operation Centers (ROCs) in Orlando, Las Vegas, Vancouver or Toronto. At the ROCs, the soaps are recycled through a sanitation process that involves soaking the soap in an eco-friendly sterilizing solution and treating them with a steam/pressure combination. The soaps' pH levels are tested and then the soaps are cooled for packaging. These recycled soap products, along with appropriate educational materials, are distributed to impoverished countries worldwide and to domestic homeless shelters. Soon, Clean the World will automate the process by adding a soap press at the Orlando location, which should quadruple the daily output of recycled soaps from 10,000 to 40,000. The soaps are then distributed through a network of global distribution partners, such as World Vision, Harvest Time International, Children International and others, to ensure that hygiene products are put in the hands of children and families who need them most.

The Impact
Impoverished people around the world die every day from acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease because they have no soap. The death toll is staggering. Each year more than five million lives are lost to these diseases, with the majority of deaths being among children under the age of five. Studies have shown that simple handwashing substantially reduces the spread of these diseases. Unfortunately, the essential items for proper handwashing are unobtainable for millions of people worldwide.

The Partners
Participating hospitality partners include more than 1,100 hotels and inns across North America, and ACI has signed on as a Silver Sponsor for the Inaugural Clean the World Gala, which is scheduled for Saturday, November 5, 2011, at The Peabody Orlando. "ACI can be a gateway to opportunities for our industry to support Clean the World in many ways. All of the groups with which we are associated – NGOs, volunteer organizations, schools, nursing associations, etc. – can get involved with Clean the World in an important and meaningful way," says Bock.

The Clean the World website ( includes a searchable map to help you locate hotels, inns and bed & breakfast establishments that support this program. If you stay in one of these locations, be sure to let them know that you applaud their efforts.

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