Contact Lens Companies Adapt Corporate and Product Manufacturing Sustainability Goals

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NEW YORK—Around the world and increasing in the U.S., major contact lens companies have continued to articulate and escalate their commitment to sustainability goals and are communicating those messages more frequently to both providers and patients. As VM has reported, according to the AOA, many patients are unaware that there is an environmentally friendly way to dispose of their worn contact lenses.

The organization cited a 2018 Arizona State University study which found “as many as 1 in 5 contact lens wearers dispose of their lenses down the sink or toilet, contributing an estimated 6 to 10 metric tons of plastic lenses to U.S. wastewater each year. Furthermore, those lenses break down into microplastics at treatment plants, posing a risk to marine organisms and the food supply, researchers claimed.”





Earlier this month, Bausch + Lomb reported that its exclusive ONE by ONE Recycling program has recycled nearly 27 million used contact lenses, top foils and blister packs since launching in November 2016. The program, made possible through a collaboration with TerraCycle, a world leader in the collection and repurposing of hard-to-recycle post-consumer waste, has diverted more than 162,000 pounds of contact lens waste from oceans, lakes, streams and landfills.

“As a leader in the eye health industry and the originator of the first soft contact lens, we are proud to provide the ONE by ONE Recycling program to contact lens wearers to help prevent these used materials from ending up in our environment,” said John Ferris, general manager, U.S. Vision Care, Bausch + Lomb.

“In addition, as part of our overall approach to sustainability, we continually evaluate the full life cycle of our lenses. In fact, many of our contact lenses, including Biotrue ONEday daily disposables, are manufactured in facilities that have adopted zero-waste-to-landfill initiatives and have achieved diversion rates of 94 percent to 99 percent during the past few years, further supporting our long-standing commitment to doing all we can to lessen our company’s overall environmental footprint.”

Today, more than 5,500 optometry practices are registered with the ONE by ONE Recycling program. To participate, contact lens wearers can bring their used contact lenses and packaging to one of these offices, which collects the used lens materials in a custom recycling bin provided by Bausch + Lomb. Once the bin is filled, the optometry practice will ship the materials to TerraCycle for proper recycling using a pre-paid shipping label.

Additionally, for every 10 pounds of material received from the ONE by ONE Recycling Program, TerraCycle donates $10 to Optometry Giving Sight. More details are posted at www.BauschRecycles.com

In 2019, Bausch + Lomb took the program one step further by repurposing the recycled waste and combining it with other recycled material to create custom training modules that were donated to the Guide Dog Foundation, a national not-for-profit that trains guide dogs for people who are blind or visually impaired.

CooperVision continues to expand its commitment to sustainability as a company. Its parent company, The Cooper Companies, has aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a global framework and action plan intended to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity and peace for all by 2030.

In addition, CooperVision is manufacturing its clarity 1 day lenses at its LEEDS certified facility in Costa Rica, a tropical country that has transformed itself to 98 percent renewable energy sources. The Alajuela facility, which hosted a visit from some 20 ECPs over a year ago also highlighted initiatives the company has underway as part of its stepped-up efforts toward sustainability, including recycling efforts and packaging programs, too.

Johnson & Johnson Vision Care also has initiated contact lens recycling programs in Europe with TerraCycle, has revamped its contact lens packaging and its efforts are part of a broader company-wide position embracing sustainability as it impacts energy, company waste reduction, manufacturing systems, and other investments. The company’s website emphasizes the company’s goals as part of its corporate social responsibility missions. Read more about it at www.jjvision.com/corporate-social-responsibility.

At Alcon, the company has developed and issued a sustainable packaging guide for their packing design teams, utilized best practice packaging case examples, shared among designers across the company. Alcon has also made sure the company’s design and development program ensures products are manufactured and placed on the market in conformance with global product-related legislation, including EU Medical Device Regulation, REACH, RoHS, Packaging Waste and global equivalents.

To help bolster awareness around proper contact lens disposal, the AOA’s Contact Lens and Cornea Section (CLCS) developed a resource to help doctors educate their patients.