CooperVision Outlines Sustainability Efforts during Tour of Costa Rican Facility

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica—CooperVision is working diligently to increase its efforts around environmental initiatives focused in a few key areas – including saving water, conserving energy, and reducing, reusing and recycling resources – and took steps toward demonstrating this commitment during a recent program for ECPs here in Costa Rica. The company hosted an event for about 20 eyecare professionals and others at its 100,000-square-foot contact lens manufacturing facility in Alajuela, Costa Rica, last month.

The goals of the three-day program were to provide ECP opinion leaders with a behind-the-scenes look into how CooperVision combines state-of-the-art manufacturing with sustainability and also to allow the ECPs to observe how CooperVision’s clariti 1 day lenses are made and packaged in the facility. The Alajuela facility, which is located just a few miles from the San Jose airport, will produce about 380 million clariti 1 day lenses in the current fiscal year, according to the site director Eligio Santiago, who noted that planned expansion of the facility could almost double production by fiscal year 2021.

The site visit and CooperVision executive presentations also highlighted several initiatives the company has underway as part of its stepped-up efforts toward sustainability. CooperVision’s clariti 1 day marketing director Inga Grote-Ebbs told the attendees that she viewed the week’s “clariti 1 day experience” as a way for CooperVision to better “tell its story around sustainability and around who we are” as a company.

Pamela Jackson, a senior director of digital marketing communications, added, “Our goal is around doing better every day as it relates to sustainability. We want to be really mindful and thoughtful about how we do that.” One step the company has taken recently to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability was the appointment of its first director for corporate responsibility, Matt Berner.

The facility in Alajuela received the prestigious LEED Silver certification earlier this year for its environmentally conscious design and operation. The site, which opened in 2016, is believed to be the only LEED Silver-certified contact lens manufacturing site in the world, according to CooperVision. The facility recycles more than 95 percent of the materials used during the production process, and repurposes 99 percent of plastics into new products. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.

Grote-Ebbs told Vision Monday the objectives of the trip included having the participants share information among themselves, and for the CooperVision team to gain a better understanding of the messages that resonate with doctors around the sustainability concept and the clariti 1 Day experience.

“I am really excited about how engaged everyone is, with both the topics [we’re discussing] and with each other,” she said. “There’s a lot of knowledge sharing and a lot of camaraderie. Every time we get on the bus there is so much talk and so much excitement.”

Grote-Ebbs noted that the Costa Rica experience was one of the first times that CooperVision has talked in-depth with ECPs about its efforts toward sustainability. “Clearly, there is excitement around [sustainability] and clearly doctors care because their patients care…. Using clariti 1 Day as an example really resonated with the doctors because of the trends in the category. It’s one more puzzle piece of what doctors are trying to accomplish.”

In addition, CooperVision’s parent company, The Cooper Companies, in early June announced its alignment 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.

The visit to the Alajuela facility included a plant tour that allowed the ECPs and other guests to observe the entire production process, from creation of the monomer material to the final inspection and shipping preparation. The trip concluded with a final round of presentations and a roundtable discussion about sustainability and the role it may play in eyecare going forward.