When it comes to the hotel industry, the biggest symbol of waste would have to be the complimentary toiletries. As it stands, the majority of hotels in the U.S. aren’t involved in any recycling programs — which means that a staggering amount of those tiny plastic bottles are ending up in landfills every year.

Enter Clean the World, an organization working to recycle hotel toiletries and save lives. With 1.5 million children losing their lives to hygiene-related illnesses every year, Clean the World is determined to cut that number in half through hand-washing initiatives. Not only are they committed to saving millions of lives in developing countries, they’re also protecting the environment and preserving natural resources by redirecting hotel waste from landfills.

Leading what they refer to as a “Global Hygiene Revolution,” Clean the World currently operates soap recycling centers in Orlando, Las Vegas and Hong Kong. Discarded amenities are shipped to these recycling centers, where they are sanitized and repurposed into life-saving hygiene products and then delivered to children and families in need around the globe. Since their founding in 2009, they’ve partnered with more than 4,000 hotels and resorts, and distributed more than 35 million bars of soap in 100 countries.

One of their newest partners is Atrium Hospitality, a hotel management company overseeing a number of hotels in the Marriott, Hilton and Intercontinental brand families. Daniel Abernethy, president of the company, explains:

“We are excited to add the partnership with Clean the World to our recycling and energy-reduction strategies, particularly given the program’s proven impact on hygiene and quality of life in underprivileged communities worldwide.”

As such, Atrium Hospitality’s many properties will be taking trashed soap and plastic amenity bottles and giving them a second life — one where they can help to fight the spread of preventable diseases. To whip up excitement and drive participation to recycle hotel toiletries, the management company has decided to introduce an element of friendly competition. A company-wide challenge was issued to all 49 properties to see which hotel can collect the most weight in leftover amenities and soap per room, per year. With almost 12,500 rooms in their domain, Atrium is projecting they can reduce annual waste by 188,444 pounds, donate 107,927 pounds of soap per year, and produce an estimated 575,611 recycled bars of soap.

The impact of this challenge is stunning, and one that’s recognized by their nonprofit partner. “Sustainability is a major focus for hotels,” said Shawn Seipler, CEO and co-founder of Clean the World. “We estimate the North American lodging industry throws away more than a million bars of soap each day. By recycling soap and bottled amenities, Atrium Hospitality is having a positive effect from both an environmental and humanitarian perspective.”

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By Liz Greene

Liz Greene is an animal-loving, makeup-obsessing pop culture geek from the beautiful City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch her latest makeup misadventures on her blog, Three Broke Bunnies.