Recycling Hotel Soap & Toiletries could have a far reaching effect:

  • Every day, millions of bars of soap are discarded by hotels worldwide.
  • Every year, 1.7 million children die from disease and infection.
  • Half a million of these children could still be alive if they had soap to wash their hands.
  • The plastic from empty or half-full bottles and tubes of hotel toiletries is proving challenging to properly recycle, despite being manufactured from expensive recyclable PET or HDPE.
  • The UK waste industry’s infrastructure is simply unable to capture this waste stream.
  • The plastic containers all end up in landfill or are being incinerated.
  • The high quality toiletry products inside are lost, despite being manufactured from valuable resources, and when properly recovered is perfectly safe for human use.

Prof Dame Julia Higgins says about recycling plastics: “… looking at the science of mixing plastic polymers together, it turns out they’re extremely reluctant to mix, and one of the consequences of that is if you try and mix them together, then you’d just get “crumbs”, it simply won’t hang together, it won’t mix…” 

In other words, the different polymers all need to be kept separately, to make it possible to recycle them properly.

Gwen Powell, Founder of, and Project Director for CleanConscience, found that trying to engage with UK based plastics recyclers, you’d have to be able to offer a minimum of 14 tonnes of the same polymer at a time, and with many different types of polymer being used in plastic bottles, tubes, lids, and caps, that this is just not practical or financially sustainable.

Prof Higgins goes on to say: “My own view is that we should be burning the plastics, they are a source of energy, they came from oil, they should go back into the energy cycle, having borrowed them from the oil in the first place. To me, we shouldn’t be saying “we shouldn’t use plastics”, we should be saying “what is the end of their life”, we should be making it more useful as an energy source…”

How does a Material Recycling Facility (MRF) work?

Challenges faced by those hotels keen to recycle their amenity bottles and tubes

It is a well known fact amongst manufacturers of hotel toiletries, 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.

  • 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.

The recycling process

The CleanConscience Programme gives hotels and venues

a structured and successful SOLUTION to these challenges

Join the programme today

To enquire about how to join our programme please contact Gwen on 07941 524 222

Alternatively please complete your details in the form here and we will be in touch.