A couple times every day, a UPS truck backs up to the loading dock at our Orlando warehouse and unloads dozens of bins containing discarded soap from hotels. We run the bars through our sterilization and recycling process. After the cycle is complete, we end up with boxes full of new soap bars that are shipped around the world.
Thanks to a gift from Unilever, there was one afternoon recently when Clean the World’s Operations team received 100 times more soap than they would on a typical day. The sweet-smelling donation came our way courtesy of a formulation change at a Unilever soap manufacturing plant. An ingredient modification caused the soap to be out of spec for the company’s needs – but perfect in every other way.
“A manager at the plant was leaving to join the Peace Corps, but she had one great idea for us before she left,” said Jessica Sobel, North America Sustainability Manager for Unilever. “Within our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, we want to help improve people’s health & well-being. Globally, we are teaching consumers across Asia, Africa, and Latin America the importance of washing hands with soap to reduce the incidence of life-threatening diseases. This manager suggested that we use this soap and allow the U.S. business to contribute to our global handwashing mission. Her idea of donating the soap to Clean the World was the perfect solution.”
The surplus soap came to Clean the World in large, brick-like chunks. We immediately started grinding the big yellow pieces and forming them into bars on our production line. It didn’t take long for the recycled Unilever soap to start making a difference.
One of the photos at the bottom of this post shows a little boy holding a bag full of soap bars. The bars were formed from the Unilever donation. That boy in Quito, Ecuador received those bars just two weeks ago.
Currently our volunteers are preparing more than 40 thousand hygiene kits, which will be distributed to Filipinos displaced by Typhoon Haiyan.
Those are just two examples of how one company’s donation can benefit so many people. With the surplus from Unilever’s manufacturing plant, Clean the World can save even more lives with soap.