How to Recycle Zero Waste Contact Lenses: A Guide to Sustainable Disposal
As more people become aware of the importance of reducing waste and protecting the environment, many are looking for ways to recycle even the smallest items. One such item that has gained attention recently is contact lenses. While they may seem insignificant, the amount of waste generated by contact lenses can add up quickly, especially when you consider the millions of people who wear them every day.
Fortunately, there are ways to recycle contact lenses and reduce the amount of waste they generate. Some companies have launched recycling programs specifically for contact lenses and their packaging, while others offer tips on how to recycle them on your own. By recycling your contact lenses, you can help reduce the amount of plastic waste in landfills and oceans, and contribute to a more sustainable future.
Why Recycle Contact Lenses?
When it comes to contact lenses, many people may not realize that they are not recyclable through regular household recycling programs. This means that millions of contact lenses and their packaging end up in landfills every year, contributing to environmental pollution and waste.
However, recycling contact lenses and their packaging can help reduce this waste and prevent it from ending up in landfills. By recycling your contact lenses, you can help protect the environment and conserve valuable resources.
Additionally, recycling contact lenses can also have a positive impact on the economy. The recycling industry creates jobs and contributes to economic growth, which can benefit communities and individuals alike.
Overall, recycling contact lenses and their packaging is a simple and effective way to make a positive impact on the environment and society. By taking the time to properly recycle your contact lenses, you can help create a more sustainable and healthy future for all.
Challenges of Recycling Contact Lenses
Recycling contact lenses is not as straightforward as recycling other materials. Here are some of the challenges that make it difficult:
- Size: Contact lenses are small and lightweight, which makes them difficult to separate from other waste at recycling facilities.
- Materials: Contact lenses are made of a combination of plastic and silicone, which can be difficult to recycle.
- Packaging: Contact lenses are typically packaged in small plastic containers that are not recyclable in most curbside programs.
Another challenge is that many people do not realize that contact lenses should not be flushed down the toilet. When flushed, they can end up in waterways and contribute to microplastic pollution. Instead, contact lenses should be disposed of properly by recycling or throwing them in the trash.
Despite these challenges, there are options available for recycling contact lenses. Some companies, like Acuvue, have partnered with TerraCycle to offer a contact lens recycling program. Additionally, some optometrists and eye care centers may offer recycling options for contact lenses and their packaging.
It is important to note that while recycling contact lenses is a step in the right direction, it is not a perfect solution. The recycling process for contact lenses can be time-intensive and costly, and there is still much research being done to develop more efficient and sustainable ways to recycle them.
How to Recycle Zero Waste Contact Lenses
Recycling contact lenses is crucial to reduce waste and protect the environment. Here are some ways to recycle zero waste contact lenses:
- Use TerraCycle: TerraCycle is a recycling company that accepts contact lenses and blister packs from all brands. Collect these items in one location, and then drop them off at a local eye doctor’s office that’s participating in TerraCycle’s program. You can also ship them to TerraCycle by using a prepaid label that you can download on the website.
- Participate in Bausch + Lomb ONE by ONE Free Recycling Program: This program accepts contact lenses and blister packs from all brands. You can recycle with TerraCycle, or find participating stores and drop off your recycling in-store. Eye care offices in your community are also recycling contact lenses and blister packs.
- Recycle on your own: Biotrue Bausch + Lomb contact solution comes in a cardboard box which can be recycled or composted. The actual solution itself comes in a plastic bottle which can be recycled with your regular municipal recycling.
- Recycle blister packs: Although contact lenses themselves cannot be recycled, you can recycle the plastic blister packs that contain them. Online magazine Mental Floss recommends putting empty blister packs inside plastic bottles and then dropping them into your recycling bin once you’ve filled up the bottles.
By following these simple steps, you can help reduce waste and protect the environment. Remember to always recycle responsibly and do your part to keep our planet clean.
Tips for Reducing Contact Lens Waste
Reducing contact lens waste is not only good for the environment but also for your wallet. Here are a few tips to help you reduce your contact lens waste:
- Switch to daily disposable lenses: Daily disposable lenses are a great option for those who want to reduce their contact lens waste. They are designed to be used once and then thrown away, which means you don’t have to worry about cleaning and storing them. Plus, they are more hygienic than reusable lenses.
- Consider getting LASIK eye surgery: If you’re tired of dealing with contact lenses altogether, LASIK eye surgery may be a good option for you. This procedure can correct your vision and eliminate the need for contact lenses.
- Recycle your contact lenses and packaging: Many contact lens manufacturers have recycling programs in place for used lenses and packaging. For example, Acuvue allows you to ship your used lenses and blister packs for recycling free of charge. Be sure to check if your contact lens brand has a recycling program and take advantage of it.
- Use a reusable contact lens case: If you prefer reusable contact lenses, make sure you’re using a reusable contact lens case. This will help reduce the amount of waste you generate and keep your lenses clean and hygienic.
- Avoid flushing your contact lenses down the toilet: Flushing your contact lenses down the toilet can be harmful to the environment. Instead, dispose of them in the trash or recycle them through your contact lens manufacturer’s recycling program.
By following these tips, you can reduce your contact lens waste and do your part to help the environment.
Larissa is the author of this blog and a vegan, digital nomad, and fully devoted to sustainability and zero-waste lifestyle.
I love to share my passions with others, so if you have any questions about what I do or just want to exchange experiences, feel free to message me!