Once the intention is good, even the smallest gestures make the biggest of difference. A non-profit organisation in Switzerland SapoCycle is promoting hygiene, preventing infections and saving lives. How? The NGO collects and recycles soaps from luxury hotels and gets them to reach just where they need to be. To improve sanitary conditions among children and families in need.

The NGO, so far has already delivered more than 150,000 soap bars to thousands of families in refugee camps. As per its official website, it has collected 24,033 kilos of soaps so far. This would have otherwise converted into 49,267 kg of Co2.


Where would these soap bars end up instead

Founded by Dorothee Schiesser and her husband Rudolf Schiesser, SapoCycle Foundation came into being in 2014. After the realisation that a significant number of hotels soaps are discarded everyday by luxury hotels and sent off to landfill sites. Across the globe, the figure of discarded soaps runs into millions. These soaps not just add to the environmental problem but also result in wastage of resources. If burnt, the soap emits carbon emissions comparable to gasoline.

Thanks to patience, and persistence, the NGO has now worked out a network of 235 hotels, in countries like France, Switzerland and Monaco, who deliver the used soaps where they are recycled by disabled people who have been taught the soap recycling skill. The workforce uses specially designed machines made of second hand kitchen equipment like cheese graters to recycle these soap bars.

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The number of deaths due to lack of proper hygiene

The recycled soaps are distributed to underdeveloped countries especially where the child morbidity and mortality rates, caused by diarrheal illnesses and respiratory infection, are the highest. As per data made available by UNICEF, more than 300,000 children under the age of five die due to diarrhoea related infections, which are linked to lack of hygiene, safe drinking water and proper sanitation. The NGO has now partnered with several chains of international luxury hotels but Swiss Red Cross was among the first collaborators of the initiative.

What the future holds

There is no dearth of countries that fit in both ends of the spectrum; luxury tourism and extreme poverty at the same time. The foundation is currently looking at a franchising model that will tap such countries. The collection, recycling and distribution could occur in the same country, thereby simplifying the distribution logistics.

The founders are today happy that their foundation has taken off and have a vision for each of the needy nations. "Everyday is exciting," said Dorothee Schiesser in an interview to Newlyswissed. The Foundation is open to hotels, corporations, associations and NGO that wants to partner in the programme.