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News | December 7, 2016

Clean the World: Recycling Used Soap for Those in Need

Clean the World recycled soap packages

On Leap Day 2012, Clean the World opened its Recycling Operations Center in Las Vegas with just two employees.  With those two employees, it recycled amenities from 16 Strip resorts, adding only one since then.  After six months, only one employee operated the entire facility.

“I was working at the Orlando facility and I was asked to move out here to operate the Las Vegas Facility,” Kevin Williams, Las Vegas Recycling Center Manager, said.  “For six months there were just two of us and after that, for about another six months, it was just me.  We started with just a storage unit where we had a contractor doing the picks-ups of the amenities and taking them to the warehouse to be sorted.  A lot has changed since then.”

Clean the World started when CEO and Founder Shawn Seipler was a traveling salesman living in hotels for much of the year.  It was at a Holiday Inn in Minneapolis where he asked the hotel what they did with their leftover bars of soap and bottles of shampoo and conditioner.  They told him that they simply threw everything away after each guests use.  With over 9,000 children’s deaths per day in countries without access to soap, he realized that there was an opportunity to do something good.

“One million bars of soap were being thrown away and he discovered that soap could be sanitized and recycled and it was a rather simple process,” Williams said.  “In the six years that I’ve worked for Clean the World, we’ve gone from 400 to over 4,000 hotels that we collect amenities from.  By recycling and shipping to countries that don’t have access to soap, diseases can be reduced by 65% with handwashing alone, saving one million lives per year.”

With funding from Las Vegas Sands, the Las Vegas facility was able to purchase the machines to sanitize and recycle all of their own amenities.  In the past, collected amenities had to be shipped back to Orlando for sanitation and recycling.

“We were able to reduce costs in so many ways, especially with our partners,” he said.  “We now ship 35 million bars of soap to 100 countries all over the world.  Las Vegas Sands also aided in the creation of hygiene kits that are distributed throughout the United States.  It’s one step closer to getting soap to all of those in need.”

One of the challenges the organization faces is getting the community to know they’re in the area and fulfilling the volunteer efforts needed to sort, sanitize and recycle all of the amenities.  In Orlando and Las Vegas, Clean the World has established Soap in Schools to expand their presence.  In Las Vegas, a partnership with Opportunity Village has established steady volunteerism and exposure.

“Through our Discovery Program, we have high school students ages 18-21 working here at the facility,” he said.  “It’s a full-time job for them, where they learn to be accountable.  We’re a host site for the organization and it’s a great partnership.  Not only do I love working with these kids, but what they produce helps so many people in the community.  To see a recipient’s face when they receive a bar of soap or a hygiene kit is the best.  A bar of soap can be taken for granted.  It’s great to see the impacted by Clean the World, recipients and volunteers alike.”

Clean the World event