Company diverts more than 9.2 million units of contact lens materials from waste stream

24 Apr 2019

First-of-its-kind partnership recycles more than 55,200 pounds of contact lenses, blister packs and top foil in less than 3 years.

Bausch + Lomb has 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 foil since the program's launch in November 2016.

Company diverts more than 9.2 million units of contact lens materials from waste stream

Made possible through a collaboration with TerraCycle®, a world leader in the collection and repurposing of hard-to-recycle post-consumer waste, the ONE by ONE Recycling program has diverted more than 55,200 pounds of used contact lenses, blister packs and top foils - roughly the weight of an adult whale shark - from oceans, lakes, streams and landfills.

"Prior to the ONE by ONE Recycling Program, contact lens wearers did not have an option to ensure that their contact lenses, blister packs and top foils are properly recycled," said Amy Butler, vice president, Global Environment, Health, Safety + Sustainability, Bausch Health. "It's not the material these products are made with that had prohibited their ability to do so, but rather their small size. We are excited to celebrate Earth Day by continuing to give our patients and eye care professionals the opportunity to take part in our ONE by ONE program and ultimately help ensure these used materials do not end up in our environment."

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."

The Bausch + Lomb ONE by ONE Recycling Program is available to contact lens wearers and optometrists in the US. To participate in the program, contact lens wearers can bring their used contact lenses and packaging to any of the more than 3,500 participating eye care professionals' offices. Custom recycling bins and office materials are 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. 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, 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 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."

In addition to the US, Bausch + Lomb also has similar contact lens recycling programs in The Netherlands and Australia.

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