First free contact lens recycling scheme launched in UK to tackle plastic pollution

The free programme has been been available nationwide

The beauty Industry's problem with plastic: is it doing enough?

The first free contact lens recycling scheme in the UK has been launched in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of plastic waste.

The “Acuvue Contact Lens Recycle Programme”, established by Johnson & Johnson Vision2, has been made available in Boots Opticians and select independent practices.

It’s the first initiative in the UK to offer the public the opportunity to recycle their contact lenses, the blister and foil packaging after use for free.

The programme is available for all contact lens users, regardless of their preferred brand.

The aim of the scheme is to cut down on the quantity of plastic waste that ends up in the UK’s landfills and waterways and to encourage people to dispose of their contact lenses in a sustainable way.

According to research commissioned by Johnson & Johnson and conducted by One Poll in November 2018, a fifth of contact lens users get rid of their used contact lenses by flushing them down the toilet or the sink.

Additional research also found that more than two thirds of consumers aren’t sure about which of their household items can be recycled, and more than a third of contact lens wearers aren’t aware of whether they can recycle their lenses or not.

The scheme will allow recycling company TerraCycle to transform used contact lenses into new products, such as outdoor furniture or plastic lumber.

“Seventy-seven per cent of British contact lens wearers said they would recycle their contact lenses if they could and we share their interest in reducing the amount of plastics in the environment,” said Sandra Rasche, area vice president in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Johnson & Johnson Vision Care.

“As a business, we are committed to doing our part to combat climate change, protect our planet’s natural resources and reduce waste, and this new UK recycling programme represents the next step in our company’s sustainability commitment.”

The new recycling scheme will eventually provide contact lens users with more than 1,000 drop-off points across the UK.

They can either drop their contact lens waste off at the recycling points, or arrange to have the refuse colleted.

You can find your nearest contact lens recycling drop-off points by visiting the Acuvue or TerraCycle websites for more information.

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In December 2018 it was announced that Walkers Crisps had launched a recycling scheme following a petition for the company to reduce the amount of plastic packaging that it uses.

The new recycling scheme allows consumers to drop off their crisp packets at various collection points, where they’re then taken and recycled by TerraCycle.

“This is another important step towards our ambition to make all of our packaging 100 per cent recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025,” said Ian Ellington, general manager of Walkers’ parent company PepsiCo UK.

“This is the first crisp packet recycling scheme in the UK and it will only work if everyone gets collecting and sending in, which is why we’ve made the scheme as simple as possible and free.”

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