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Vision and Eye Health 2019

Making glasses is a wasteful process; we must be more sustainable

iStock / Getty Images Plus / dunsanpetkovic

Tom Aylett

Category Planner, Healthcare – Optical & Pharmacy Services, ASDA Opticians

Sustainability is a topic that has gained a lot of interest over the past few years, and has started conversations in many industries, one of which is fashion. 

Supermarkets across the country are becoming more environmentally conscious; reducing packaging and banning single-use carrier bags.

Optical departments within supermarkets – not to be left behind – are quickly following this positive trend.

With sustainability projects like this happening and customers, rightly, starting to raise concerns about product sourcing and its effect on the environment, supermarket opticians need to work towards more sustainable spectacle ranges.

It is important to work closely with suppliers to realise the overall vision of designing styles that are viable using their current manufacturing processes, while also remaining fashionable and delivering great quality for customers.

Traditional glasses manufacturing can be very wasteful

Frame manufacturing is currently a relatively wasteful industry, as most off-cuts and imperfect frames cannot easily be re-worked back into the production stream and find their way into landfill sites across the globe.

Over the last 10 years, however, there has been a lot of time and resource focussed on finding techniques that enable this waste stream to be viable for production.

Reviewing the manufacturing process and incorporating a recycling process – whereby the broken frames and pieces of normally discarded material could be reused and forged into a new range of lightweight and stylish frames – is the next step for a more sustainable production line.

Spectacles use a lot of protective packaging; we need to cut this down

Compared to grocery products, spectacle frames require a lot of transit packaging material that – currently – mostly ends up in landfill.

Working to minimising these materials as well as moving to materials that can be recycled via standard recycling centres is important.

An example of reducing plastic is to have a temple protecting sleeve on just one arm of the frames instead of both, as this will still prevent them from rubbing in transit and damaging the frames, but halve the plastic being used for that purpose.

An example of moving to recyclable plastic is for the dummy lenses, that are only required in transit so that frames keep their shape for when the prescription lenses are added.

With the growing concern about the impact we are having on the environment, sustainability will ultimately become the new normal and, as such, we’re passionate about working with an innovative supplier who is kick-starting this movement within the optical industry, and hopefully further empowering our customers to drive this change through their purchase choices.

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