Bausch + Lomb, announced that its ONE by ONE Recycling Program, the first contact lens recycling program of its kind, has recycled more than 9.2 million used contact lenses, blister packs and top foils since the program’s launch in November 2016. The ONE by ONE Recycling program is offered free of charge to eye care professionals and their patients across the United States and is made possible through a collaboration with TerraCycle®, a world leader in the collection and repurposing of hard-to-recycle post-consumer waste. As of the end of March 2019, the total amount of waste collected and recycled translates to more than 55,200 pounds — roughly the weight of an adult whale shark.
“When we first began working with TerraCycle in early 2016, we were surprised to learn that even though the material used to manufacture contact lenses, blister packs and top foils are recyclable, the materials don’t end up being recycled if placed in standard ‘blue bins’ due to their small size,” said John Ferris, general manager, U.S. Vision Care, Bausch + Lomb. “We launched the ONE by ONE Recycling Program to provide contact lens wearers a straightforward, simple solution to ensure that these used contact lens materials are properly recycled. We are proud of the milestones that our partnership with TerraCycle has achieved and thank the eye care professionals and patients for participating in the program. Together we are helping to reduce the environmental impact these materials create.”
According to The Association of Plastic Recyclers, the industry standard screen size, which identifies and removes unrecyclable plastics, filters out materials that measure less than three inches in diameter. Because standard recycling facilities are unable to process these small items, they either end up contaminating other recyclable material or are diverted to landfills.
“Contact lenses are one of the forgotten waste streams that are often overlooked due to their size and how commonplace they are in today’s society,” said Tom Szaky, CEO, TerraCycle. “It’s through beneficial partnerships, like the one we enjoy with Bausch + Lomb, and ground-breaking initiatives, like the ONE by ONE Recycling Program, that drive awareness of the issue, elicit change in the consumer and lead to the preservation of our environment for future generations to come.”
To participate in the program, lens wearers are encouraged to bring their used contact lenses and packaging to any of the more than 3,500 participating eye care professionals’ offices and recycle them in custom recycling bins provided to registered accounts. Once the recycling bins are full, the optometry practice mails the used lens materials to TerraCycle for proper recycling using a free shipping label from bauschrecycles web site. Once the materials are received by TerraCycle, the materials are then recycled into post-consumer products.
“The ONE by ONE Recycling program has been an integral part of my practice since it became available,” said Gina Wesley, O.D., from Complete Eye Care, Medina, MN. “We have recycling bins throughout the office and patients are pleased to hear about it during their appointments, especially those who wear daily disposable lenses, like Biotrue® ONEday contact lenses, and have expressed concern about the added waste they create. I applaud Bausch + Lomb for leading the way in providing this solution for my practice and patients and helping to minimize the waste these materials generate.”