Opticians Introduces the UK's First Contact Lens Recycling Scheme

Opticians Introduces the UK’s
First Contact Lens Recycling Scheme

When you think about items that you can recycle, contact lenses might not be first on your list, but millions of people use disposable lenses across the UK, and this results in the creation of a lot of plastic waste.

Contact lens wearers have previously had to resort to sending their used lenses to landfill, but now a West Yorkshire-based optician is working to change that. Valli Opticians has introduced a contact lens recycling scheme across their 14 practices because reducing plastic waste is high up on its social responsibility agenda. It hopes that the scheme encourages others to follow suit so that a viable national contact lens recycling solution can be found.

The company has bought zero waste boxes from the recycling company TerraCycle who specialise in waste that’s typically difficult to recycle. When the boxes are full, the company sends them back to TerraCycle, who sort the lenses into their different materials then they’re recycled to create new products like outdoor furniture.

Valli noticed a message from a contact lens wearer on an online forum asking how they could recycle their old contact lenses, and the fact that there was no UK contact lens recycle scheme hit home.

The problem with contact lenses is that they are a mix of complex materials and are packaged with top foil and blister packs which can’t often be recycled in kerbside schemes.

The company has promoted the scheme widely on social media, in the local press, and via blogs on their website, and it says that other plastic reduction campaigns and increased awareness due to the Blue Planet documentary has helped bring the plastic problem into focus.

Valli say that feedback from patients has been excellent, and it’s working with suppliers to widen the scheme to make it available to more people. The company has encouraged other businesses to follow suit and introduce a contact lens recycling scheme for everyone.

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