Hong Kong, 25 September, 2018 – As many Hongkongers take advantage of the long weekend for short excursions abroad, Asia’s first soap recycling charity, Soap Cycling, celebrates its sixth year of empowerment to the disadvantaged communities, rescuing precious sanitary resources from the landfills, and saving lives from hygiene-related diseases – all achieved in one circular economy that is powered by the youths.
How are overseas excursions relevant to Soap Cycling, you ask? Central to Soap Cycling’s operations is, as its name suggests, soap bars – more precisely, good-quality soap bars that are used by travelers staying at hotels and discarded daily. In Hong Kong alone, two to three million barely used soap bars are discarded by hotels annually, while three million children worldwide die from preventable, hygiene-related diseases. And so it was that, in 2012, David Bishop, Principal Lecturer at the Business Faculty, The University of Hong Kong, founded Soap Cycling to connect surplus sanitary resources – the discarded, half-used soap – with communities that lack access to this efficient life-saving tool against pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases. What Soap Cycling also does is youth empowerment – largely run by student interns, the organization has provided real-world experiences and exposure to social responsibility to over 220 students since its inception.
Used soap bars are collected by Soap Cycling’s hotel partners and later its student interns or volunteers, to be sorted and reprocessed at its warehouse, before the soap bars are delivered to the people in need in the Philippines, China, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia, with the help of the organization’s NGO partners.
In 2017, Soap Cycling began the collection of liquid hotel amenities and upcycled them into hygiene kits. In the same year, for the Minority, Elderly, and Youth in Kwai Chung – the area with the highest poverty rates and also where Soap Cycling’s warehouse is located – Soap Cycling founded the MEY program to provide them with training and employment opportunities, as well as community engagement. As a validation of its efforts in youth empowerment and entrepreneurship cultivation, this year saw the return of two of Soap Cycling’s founding interns as the organization’s board members.
In its sixth year running, Soap Cycling has already collected 23,664.2kg of soap bars and bottled amenities from Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, distributed 12,076.6kg of soap bars to the Philippines, Cambodia, Singapore, Burma, Nepal, and Hong Kong, in addition to the 11,418 upcycled hygiene kits distributed locally, with the help of 1,846 volunteers and 22 student interns. Soap Cycling has also recently received the Sustainable Development Fund to enhance operations and community outreach, and currently being tabled is the hosting of a Hospitality Sustainability Conference in May 2019.
As it celebrates its sixth anniversary, Soap Cycling looks forward to another year of sustainable social and environmental impact that began with a humble soap bar.
About Soap Cycling Founded in 2012 as a charity organization that collects single-use soap bars from hotels in Hong Kong, to be upcycled and distributed to disadvantaged communities which lack access to sanitary resources, Soap Cycling is devoted to youth empowerment and community engagement by providing these members of community with practical and meaningful work experiences, and exposure to social responsibility.