Optical by National Pharmacies stores in Adelaide have become the first in Australia to collect and recycle contact lens waste from customers through a partnership with end-to-end optical recycling company Opticycle.
The optometry network is aiming to divert about 230,000 empty disposable contact lens blister cases from landfill over the next six months.
The contact lens waste trial, launched 15 November, follows National Pharmacies’ recycling of 3.2 million empty medicine blister packs as part of a program that has more than doubled recycling targets since starting one year ago.
Coinciding with National Recycling Week from 13 to 19 November, Optical by National Pharmacies is joining forces with Opticycle for an initial six-month trial to recycle empty disposable contact lens blister cases deposited in collection boxes at 10 Optical by National Pharmacies stores in South Australia.
Opticycle will separate the contact lens cases into plastic and aluminium for repurposing into building products, including plastic fence posts and plastic wheel stops, and in the production of steel.
With disposable contact lens blister cases unable to be recycled through kerbside waste collection, the partnership is being described as the first and only end-to-end trial program that collects contact lens cases from optical store customers and separates and processes the materials.
Data from Opticycle estimated between 250 to 500 million disposable contact lens cases are discarded each year by Australian consumers, with daily, single-use plastic lens cases comprising the largest portion of that waste.
National Pharmacies CEO Mr Vito Borrello said Optical by National Pharmacies was among the first to provide customers with a solution to the issue of single-use contact lens waste in response to strong customer feedback and support for recycling initiatives.
“Building on the success of our existing recycling efforts throughout our pharmacies, Optical by National Pharmacies will be the first in Australia to launch this initiative,” said Borrello.
“We are proud to be partnering with Opticycle on such a great initiative as we continue to expand our recycling efforts across our optical and pharmacy stores with the encouragement of our members and customers.”
Opticycle business development manager Mr Jason Rijnbeek said the firm was currently the only full recycling solution for contact lens waste in Australia.
“We hope that more partnerships like these will divert many more tonnes of unnecessary plastic and aluminium waste from the environment to make new products as demand for single-use contact lenses across Australia is expected to grow.”