For Eyewear Product Developers Worldwide, A New Choice:

NEW YORK—Following years of research, development and testing, one of the eyewear industry’s leading players, Mazzucchelli Group, one of the world’s leading producers of acetates used in premium eyewear and sunwear, is bringing to market M49, an eco-friendly product, for which an international patent has been filed.

M49 is a cellulose acetate – the most widely spread organic compound in nature, produced from cotton and wood-pulp fibers – but a new version of it, manufactured under a new formulation using substances from renew¬able sources.

M49, according to Mazzucchelli’s Elena Orsi, keeps all the aesthetical and performance characteristics of the traditional acetate. She told VM, “The leading eyewear designers and our customers around the world have been asking for such a product, so we have been doing a lot of investigating and testing and we have reached this new ‘bio-plastic’ step by step.”

M49 is offered in a particular range of colors, not found in traditional acetate, but we are also willing to work with our customers to meet their needs. We also describe M49 as ‘100% Mazzucchelli, because it enables coloration that provide the three-dimensional features of the block materials we are known for and the complex patterning and custom looks that are characteristic of traditional Mazzucchelli acetate.”

The company debuted M49 at 2011’s Silmo, so a number of products using the material are coming onstream now, Orsi related, citing special series from Stella McCartney, for Luxottica or Gucci for Safilo.

She acknowledged that there is currently a price premium for the M49 materials, but said that the company expects that might change over time. “What we can say is that we buy cellulose acetate from a company which, for every two plans that they use, they replant three.”

Mazzucchelli says that M49 is phthalate-free and is therefore compatible with other polymers, such as the polycarbonate. The material has undergone extensive and rigorous testing and has been declared 100 percent biodegradable.

Orsi also adds that the M49 material has a pleasant “hand,” is compatible with all lens materials and can be manufactured with all Mazzucchelli technologies, with the working processes the same as traditional acetate sheet materials. The new material, she noted, can be used in all markets of fashion accessories, from frames and sunwear to costume jewelry and other design items.

“We have had a tremendously positive reaction to the material and this new initiative. We know that customers need to promote it and explain it, but they are finding ways. Today’s end consumer is very intrigued by where the food they eat comes from, where what they wear is made, how it’s made. A growing proportion of consumers are wanting to learn more. We’ve long sensed this mood among customers. They feel more responsibility about their purchases. So we feel M49 is a good answer to this important and growing trend.”