Hotel Soaps : they deserve a second life

We all are conscious that bringing our zero-waste travel essentials with us is by far the most sustainable way to travel, but we all have forgotten our stuff or decided to rely on hotel amenities one day or another.

When you use a soap bar, have you ever wondered what happens once you leave your hotel?

Most of the time, they end up in the landfill.

Some organizations are changing the game and offering a second life to hospitality soaps. Let’s see how!

Luxury bubbles

Hotel toiletries are part of the little attention that guests are expecting to see when they enter their bathroom.

The more amenities there are, the more some feel that they’ve checked in a luxury hotel.

Some travelers even collect them.

Less is more…

In most eco-friendly accommodations, you now see refillable shower gels and shampoos.

Some eco retreats will go further by offering only natural or organic products.

We’ve even spotted some guys, fighting for a plastic-free world and zero waste, that opened their very own refill shop.

The soap bar we can’t live without

It’s part of the standards, and many hoteliers are reluctant to stop supplying them. A recent study showed that only 7% of French hotel owners had opted-out of putting a soap bar in the bathrooms.

Often wrapped in paper, you could think it’s not that harmful to the environment.

So, when forgetting your items, you’ll probably choose to use the soap bar over the small plastic bottle in the shower.

Unless you stay for an extended period, you undoubtedly will never end-up finishing that soap bar, except if you take it home with you.

The dirty truth…

Figures are clear, daily hotels around the world throw 5 million soap bars in the bin, that’s almost  1 billion soaps from the hospitality industry going directly to landfill every year!

A pity when you know washing hands is the first weapon against diseases and some populations don’t have access to it.

Soap Bar’s second life

Some of you know that you can recycle soap, and may happen to do that at home.

Several organizations around the world decided to apply that to the hospitality soaps in a mission to help people in need and to reduce waste.

Clean the World, USA

The founder of Clean the World, Shawn Seipler, used to travel a lot for business. One day he asked himself where all the un-used soap bars went after he left the hotel.

He asked a few of them, and the answer he received was always the same 👉 trashed

That’s how Clean the World was born.

The company based in Florida has partnered with 5 000 hotels in the US and has started extending its operations in the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and London.

Hotels pay a fee for the collection of their un-used soaps from Clean the World. The organization upcycles them and distributes them to populations in need around the world.

Clean the World also recycles single-use shampoos and conditioners, either by refilling them if they are more than ½ full or by recycling the plastic if they are to close to the end of the bottle.

Soap Aid Australia

This Australian nonprofit organization was founded in 2011 by Mike Matulick the CEO of a hospitality amenity company, witnessing the daily waste generated by the hotels he was working with.

The organization partnered with a large number of hotels throughout Australia, collects, cleans and reprocesses the soaps to distribute them around the world.

Soap Aid proudly distributed close to a million soap bars globally in communities all over the world from Western Australia to Somalia or the Philippines.

SoapCycling, Hong Kong

David Bishop, an American teacher, based in Hong Kong started a micro-business with his students in 2011.

Based on the same observations, they started SoapCycling with the same process as the organizations we mentioned before.

Soap collection from the hotels, reprocessing and distribution to needy through selected NGO’s.

Since the beginning of Soap Cycling, over 2 Million soap bars have been distributed, and the organization works with over 80 hotels in Hong Kong and approx. 100 outside.

Unisoap, France

In 2017, Pauline Grumelle created the first nonprofit organization in France to collect and recycle hospitality soaps.

Unisoap has already partnered with some large hotel groups in France.

Their mission has four essential pillars:

  • Environnement: by reducing the hospitality industry’s waste
  • Social and humanitarian:
    • Recycled soaps are distributed to those in need in France or abroad, through their partner NGO’s
    • The staff employed for Unisoap’s process are exclusively disabled people working in an assisted employment center
  • Education: by doing educational programs in schools and hospital of emerging countries.

By the end of 2018, Unisoap already collected almost a ton of soaps at their partners and recently successfully finished a crowdfunding campaign to finance a soap recycling machine.

All these organizations are successfully proving that there are solutions to reduce hospitality waste through social and positive actions.

So next time you use a soap bar in a hotel and don’t finish it, how about asking the front desk if they’re working with an organization like these and spread the word?


Holiable is an eco-friendly travel planner helping you find sustainable hotels, green restaurants and ethical tourism activities around the world. Holiable was developed to share experiences, advice and reviews on sustainable travel, making it easier to prepare your next eco-friendly holiday.
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