Clean the World recycles unused hotel soap and shampoo

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Interview Clean the World circulaire economie

After working in the hotel sector for 20 years, Andres Fellenberg van der Molen of Clean The World experienced his Eureka moment: soap and hotel amenities, the soap and shampoo found in hotel bathrooms, needed to be recycled. What guests didn’t use was being thrown out and incinerated, whereas many life-threatening diseases in developing countries can be combatted by proper hygiene. Former hotelier Andres’s next step was to launch Clean The World Europe. From his base of operations in Prodock, he wants to make the world a little more sustainable and healthier using his circular approach. We asked him how he and Clean The World achieve this and what his plans for the future are.

200 pallets with unused soap in Prodock

Fellenberg: ‘Right now there are 200 pallets with unused soap in our warehouse in Prodock, which we received from hotel chains. While hotel bars banning plastic cocktail straws is also commendable, what we do saves lives. This is how we operate: we approach hotel chains with our story. Chains that are fired up to come on board and work with us pay us a fixed amount per hotel room, per month, for the logistics involved in processing the amenities. Now they know that the product (waste) will be re-used instead of being incinerated, and that the new product goes to people who are very much in need of it.’

Preventing diseases with recycled soap and hygiene kits

The plastic in the soap and shampoo bottles is recycled at neighbouring company Umincorp: ‘We then turn this into new bottles. We turn the shower gel into a hygiene kit and we turn the recycled pieces of soap into new, 80-gram bars of soap. These soaps and hygiene kits go to people in need, all around the globe. Many diseases in developing countries can, after all, easily be prevented by washing hands. That is where the “Clean The World Foundation” comes in, which is the charity associated with our company. Clean The World Foundation ensures that a pallet with kits goes to Tanzania for instance, and asks businesses to sponsor this.’

Next generations will see the results of what Clean The World is doing today

‘Our goal is to have all hotel chains take part in this initiative.’ According to Fellenberg this is ‘an offer you can’t refuse. We need huge numbers of participants. Spread the word. My children and theirs will see the results of what we do today.’

The port of Amsterdam offers opportunities, flexibility and energy

Fellenberg: ‘We are very happy to be located in the port of Amsterdam. There are so many businesses here that are active in the circular economy. There are opportunities here, there is flexibility, energy and last but certainly not least, people who have the will to achieve change. Here you can see and feel and, in our case, smell the circular economy. The port of Amsterdam is a true European circular hotspot.’

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Photograph: Clean The World

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