It is a well known fact, amongst the hotel toiletry manufacturers, that hotels wishing to recycle the plastics from the amenity-sized bottles and tubes are facing a huge challenge.

Whilst the amenity bottles and tubes are marketed as being highly recyclable, and priced as such, it does not mean that the UK waste infrastructure is able to recycle the plastics.

Recycling Challenges - Closed Loop Recycling

A quick overview of the challenges faced by those hotels keen to recycle their amenity bottles and tubes:

  • whilst there is still product remaining inside the bottles and tubes it is not possible to recycle at all, they must be added to the general waste (landfilled or incinerated);
  • even when empty, and added to the dry mixed recycling (DMR), which makes its way over to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), the bottles and tubes literally “fall through the gaps”, further down the process line;
    • sorting small bottles is problematic for the MRF, as the effort and expense are roughly the same to remove a 32-ounce bottle as to remove a one-ounce bottle; so the smaller sized bottles are often ignored and make their way over to an incinerator or are being landfilled;
    • small bottles or tubes which were manually or optically picked out by the MRF and then made their way into the bales, which are transported to the plastic reclaimers, are then lost when the bales are shaken apart in a trommel that has perforations 1.5 to two inches in diameter; the small bottles fall through the perforations and are then disposed to landfill or incinerators with the caps, closures, rocks, dirt and grit that also fall through the holes.

What follows below are the suggested best practices from toiletry manufacturers, Gilchrist and Soames:

  • Hotelier purchases amenities in bottles of the same resin type properly labeled with recycling symbol.
  • Hotelier works with local MRF to establish systems for bottles and closures.
  • Housekeeping collects used bottles and delivers to a common receptacle.
  • Bottles depackaged (emptied) and flattened (preferably).
  • Bottles placed in large (30 to 50 gallon) clear plastic bags.
  • Bags transported to the MRF for inclusion in standard bales.
  • Ideally, the MRF is able to add the drained bottles directly to the baler, avoiding sorting (possible only if steps are followed and bags contain a single resin type).
  • MRF transports bales to the plastic reclaimer

The above is of course highly impossible for a busy housekeeping team to comply with and that is where CleanConscience comes in.

How does a Material Recycling Facility (MRF) work?


CleanC - Reworked Images for Website (1080 x 714 pts or 377.4mm x 249.2mm).031

When we started collecting the soap and toiletries we were surprised to see that the ratio of soap to toiletries is somewhere in the region of 1:5, so we decided to concentrate our efforts on the vast volumes of toiletries; to come up with a solution to repurpose the luxury products inside, and to find a proper route for recycling the plastics recovered.



If your hotel, B&B, guesthouse or residential conference centre would like to take part in the CleanConscience hotel soap and toiletry recycling project then please get in touch with Gwen Powell: