Recycled Soap: Gross or Genius?
As you may or may not know, Soapbox is proudly a mission-driven company that provides soap to people who need it the most. The vast majority of our donated soaps, domestically and abroad, are recycled soap bars. We’ve been in business enough years to get that quizzical reaction. Recycled is usually a good thing, but when it comes to soap is it well… sanitary? So glad you asked!
TL;DR version: it’s definitely a win-win for the environment and people who need access to soap and here’s the longer answer as to why:
1. The collection process. Many of our soap manufacturers collect soap from the hospitality industry. Think nice hotels that give out soap bars and renew them every night of your stay. For a short stay, it’s highly unlikely that people actually finish a soap bar in the bath or for their hands. Instead of putting it into landfill, our partners collect this soap for recycling.
2. The sanitation process. Before you get grossed out, just hear us out. The soap then goes to a factory where custom machines shave off every part of the bar that had any potential skin contact. The soap then is melted down at high heat to further sanitize it.
3. The certification process. Sounds legit but still a little skeptical? We appreciate the healthy skepticism, which is why we also use a certification process to ensure that the soap is 100% effective and safe. In the U.S. our partner and soap manufacturer, Clean the World, is certified by SGS North America. SGS North America is a certification entity that will purposely infect soap with pathogens before putting it through the sanitation process. They then test to see if any survive the process. Our soap has had a 100% pass rate. Those are more than just good odds.
4. The lower cost = more donations. This recycling process means that we’re not paying for raw materials. By saving that money, we’re able to produce and buy more soap to donate. Yay for optimizing our impact while reducing our carbon footprint!
One of our international aid partners, Sundara, has created this video to show what that process is like in communities they serve. Their soap is also regularly lab tested to ensure that pathogens are successfully removed during the sanitization process. A beautiful benefit of their model is that they hire women to become soapmakers who otherwise would not have a stable source of income. Our international aid partner, Ecosoap Bank, uses a similar model and has actually been at the vanguard of creating safe soap certification processes for local governments.
So there you have it. When you buy our soap you’re reducing landfill waste and providing a whole lot of safe soap to someone who could really use it. You deserve a big high five-- just don’t forget to wash your hands after.