Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on April 2014

Photos: Courtesy of Soap Cycling

Hilton Worldwide hotel operator has tackled large-scale corporate responsibility projects before, but now the ten properties in Japan are taking on one of the group’s most successful efforts. They’re teaming up with Hong Kong-based Soap Cycling, an NGO that aims to make a contribution to the global fight on hygiene-related diseases in underprivileged populations across Asia. The initiative also helps Hilton Worldwide deal with one of its own problems—what to do with all those bars of soap that hotel guests use once and leave behind.

Under the scheme, old soap bars are collected from its hotel rooms in Japan and sent to JTB Trading, Inc., who store them and ship them in batches to Soap Cycling. The various remnants are then sanitized and processed before being re-molded into new bars and sent to communities in Asia that are at risk for infectious diseases.


When project leaders were distributing soap in the Philippines, a boy joyfully accepted one bar and rushed off. When the surprised camera team caught up with the boy, they found him washing himself with the soap and water at a nearby spigot. —From the staff at Soap Cycling

So far, the hotels have collected 2.3 tons of the recovered cleansing cakes since the program started last October. Much of it was sent to disaster-stricken areas in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the area and took over 6,000 lives, and more in the aftermath.

While soap may seem like a minor contribution, keep in mind that the World Health Organization estimates over 1.8 million children die each year from diarrheal diseases. Simply washing hands with soap can help save 900,000 lives. Since used soap was simply trashed before the project started, it also means that several tons of waste each month are not headed to Japanese landfills.


For more information on the project, visit: