NEW YORK—The leading contact lens companies, along with many other businesses in the optical industry, noted this week their efforts to expand plastic recycling programs and to create, what one company calls, “a more sustainable world.” The announcements from three major contact lens companies—Alcon, Bausch + Lomb and CooperVision—identify specific new programs they currently have under way and outlines some of the results coming from their ongoing efforts toward sustainability. The announcements included the following:

  • Alcon said it has earned the GreenCircle Zero Waste to Landfill Certification for three of its ophthalmic drop and solutions’ manufacturing facilities—two in Fort Worth, Texas, and one in Singapore.

  • Bausch + Lomb announced that its One by One and Biotrue Eye Care Recycling programs have recycled a total of 48,235,850 million units, or 290,145 pounds, of used contact lenses, eyecare and lens care materials, which is the equivalent of the weight of approximately 31 elephants.

  • CooperVision said its “first-of-its-kind plastic neutrality initiative” has expanded to include additional countries in Europe and Latin America, and will soon launch in select Asian countries. Also, beginning today, ECPs and contact lens wearers can view the program’s collective impact using the new CooperVision Impact Dashboard, which provides updates on how much plastic waste has been collected in collaboration with Plastic Bank.
In its announcement, CooperVision said that as its recycling program with Plastic Bank has grown, the company now expects the partnership to prevent the equivalent of nearly 90 million plastic bottles from reaching Earth’s oceans in 2022. CooperVision pioneered the first net plastic neutral contact lenses by funding Plastic Bank’s collection, processing and reuse of general ocean-bound plastic waste that is equal to the weight of the plastic contained in orders of designated products in North America and Europe.

“For CooperVision, plastic neutrality is about making a meaningful, measurable difference in partnership with eyecare professionals and wearers,” Simon Seshadri, senior vice president, global marketing, CooperVision, said in the announcement. “By simply prescribing and wearing our plastic neutral lenses, they’re making an impact.

ECPs can view the collective impact of the CooperVision plastic-neutral program using the new CooperVision Impact Dashboard (shown here).
"With our Impact Dashboard, everyone can see for themselves how these contributions quickly add up. It displays the eye-opening amount of ocean-bound plastic we’ve helped to recover to date and the local communities we’ve empowered—working together.”

Beyond the positive impact on the environment, CooperVision’s plastic neutrality initiative enables Plastic Bank collectors in nearly 200 coastal communities to clean up their towns and villages while earning credits for necessities such as groceries, cooking fuel, school tuition and health insurance.

As a leading manufacturer of contact lenses, CooperVision said it is “dedicated to reducing its environmental footprint, and its efforts extend beyond plastic neutrality.”

48m Units of Foil, Blister Packs and Lenses Collected

Bausch + Lomb noted that its ONE by ONE and Biotrue recycling programs, which gather used contact lenses, eyecare and lens care materials, are made possible through a collaboration with TerraCycle, a world leader in the collection and repurposing of hard-to-recycle post-consumer waste.

The One by One and Biotrue Eye Care Recycling programs at Bausch + Lomb have recycled a total of 48,235,850 million units since they began.

“For six years, we have collaborated with TerraCycle to offer contact lens wearers a free and convenient way to recycle their used contact lenses and packaging materials,” said Amy Butler, global vice president, environment, health, safety and sustainability, Bausch Health.

“Building upon the success of the ONE by ONE program, we created the Biotrue Eye Care Recycling program in 2021, which allows consumers to also recycle their used eyecare and lens care materials, such as lens cases and lens solution bottle caps. Together, these programs are helping us keep recyclable plastic and aluminum eye health materials out of landfills and oceans so we can help preserve our environment for future generations.”

Bausch + Lomb said it developed these programs in conjunction with TerraCycle because used contact lenses, eyecare and lens care materials don’t typically end up getting processed in standard recycling facilities. These materials are traditionally sent to landfills, because recycling facilities only accept certain types of plastic and filter out small-sized materials.

"Through their two first-of-their-kind recycling programs, Bausch + Lomb is providing consumers with a sustainable way to recycle eye health materials,” added Tom Szaky, founder and CEO, TerraCycle. “As a result of our efforts with Bausch + Lomb, we are making sure these typically forgotten waste streams are supported and given new life as various recycled products, rather than ending up in the environment.”

The ONE by ONE Recycling program has collected more than 48 million units of used contact lenses, top foils and blister packs since its launch in 2016. Additionally, since launching in April 2021, the Biotrue Eye Care Recycling program, which is the first eyecare recycling program in the U.S., has collected more than 153,222 eye drop single dose units, lens cases and lens solution caps, as well as Biotrue Hydration Boost lubricant eye drops multi-dose bottles. (Lens solution bottles can be recycled through standard recycling in accordance with local recycling guidelines.)

GreenCircle Zero Waste to Landfill Certification

Three of Alcon’s manufacturing facilities, including this one in Fort Worth, have earned the GreenCircle Zero Waste to Landfill Certification.
In its own separate announcement, Alcon said that each of its three facilities that earned GreenCircle Zero Waste to Landfill Certification diverted 100 percent of total waste from landfills. With this achievement, Alcon is the first health care company to be GreenCircle Certified for Zero Waste to Landfill operations.

“Alcon teams continually focus on innovative ways to streamline our manufacturing processes to reduce operational waste, and I’m extremely proud to achieve GreenCircle certification as a testament to our commitment,” said Ed McGough, Alcon’s senior vice president of manufacturing and technical operations. “At Alcon, we strive to improve our environmental footprint through responsible business practices while also strengthening the communities in which we live and work.”

The three GreenCircle-certified facilities manufacture many of Alcon’s over-the-counter (OTC) eyecare products, including: Opti-Free Contact Lens Solutions, AO Sept Plus and Clear Care contact lens solutions, Pataday Allergy Eye Drops, and Systane Dry Eye Drops.

In addition, Alcon’s Fort Worth ASPEX facility manufactures surgical procedural and pharmaceutical eye drops as well as BSS, a sterile intraocular irrigating solution commonly used during surgical procedures.

"The GreenCircle Zero Waste to Landfill Certification demonstrates absolute commitment to waste minimization and diversion as it requires 100 percent of waste to be diverted from landfills," said Tad Radzinski, certification officer at GreenCircle. "Often, manufacturing sites do not qualify their first time audited and need to make revisions to their waste management process to work towards this goal. We commend Alcon for earning this certification for all three of these manufacturing plants with their first GreenCircle audit.”