recycle, reglazing, eco friendly frames
When I first entered the optical industry following a degree in optometry, frames were made from many materials which were made to last for years. They could be reglazed several times ,assuming they were not damaged. Some would be made from re-appropriation of horn and tortoiseshell by-products into frames for life. Whilst that maybe un palatable to many, the glasses were reglazed several times, so environmentally friendlier. Then the industry was de-regulated & high street brands such as specsavers & vision express emerged with the goal of selling you new frames every 2 years following sight tests. Competition then led to 2 for 1 offers, so people had a glut of frames after a few visits, like fast fashion. The industry had turned the once enduring spectacle frame into a disposable one where acetate frames were discarded as valueless. Some would find there way to overseas charities such as vision aid oversees, others would end up in the bin (not recyclable) or discarded in the bottom drawer.
Now people are more eco conscious & realise that those old frames could be put to use & it is environmentally friendly to do so. Also new frame brands emerging use recycled materials such a old CDs, hemp, recycled bottles, blended acetate materials with high degree of ethically sourced materials (M49 bio-acetate) which are bio-degradable.
Reasons for why the industry has been slow to move on this front is that designer spectacles and sunglasses are often created by one or two of the big manufacturers and sold under licenses. Luxottica for example, owns over 30 eyewear brands and have over 9,000 retail outlets worldwide. They are vertically integrated, so control the initial design right through to sales and customer service. Luxottica brands account for around 14% of the total global eyewear sales, in a market currently valued at over $132.18 billion (Grand View 2018) These companies through corporate shareholders require increased level of sales so where is the incentive until the public demands it.
We are currently working with a number of niche brands which are producing bio degradable bio -acetate frames which use lenses with a high degree of organic matter to create an enduring eco friendly spectacles & sunglasses.
In the meantime keep reglazing your existing glasses, revisit those ones in the bottom drawer & do your bit for a more sustainable approach.