‘Recycled’ and ‘Recyclable’ – they’re basically the same, right? Nope. In fact, they couldn’t be more different. Yet people seem to think they’re interchangeable. 

‘Recyclable’ is the lowest bar for companies to clear. 

Example A

Brands will claim they are sustainable because the cardboard box their product is shipped in is ‘Recyclable’. Errrrr… it’s paper. Of course it’s recyclable. Can you really have green credentials because your delivery box can be put in the recycling bin? Not in our book, that's greenwashing.

Example B

A sunglasses brand will tell you its frames are ‘Recyclable’, woo hoo, but wait for it, that means they are actually made from new plastic (called virgin plastic). If it was made from ‘Recycled’ plastic they’d tell you because that’s impressive. They simply say ‘Recyclable’ hoping to trick you into thinking they’re the good guys - they’re not, it’s a sham. Boo.

It gets worse

If you’re wearing a pair of someone else’s sunglasses right now, take them off and count all the bits. A frame front, two metal hinges, two screws, two arms, two metal inner cores, a metal logo, wire nose bridges – sometimes they are made up of more than 24 parts. In order for your sunglasses to be ‘Recyclable’, all those parts need to be separated into individual piles of metal and plastic parts. 

They can be recycled – just not together. So, to make sure they are truly ‘Recyclable’, you need to get friendly with your tiny screwdriver set. 


Our glasses have 5 parts, all made from the same 100% recycled plastic, making them easy to repair & recycle. Note: Our lenses pop out in seconds and are not recycled, they are made by Carl Zeiss Vision of Germany.

‘Recycled’ means that product was recently trash but is now something useful and desirable. Yeah, now we’re talking.

Unfortunately, many brands use the term ‘Recycled’ when a very small proportion is actually recycled. Look closely. It could be 20% is recycled and 80% is virgin materials. Does that give you the same feeling of doing the right thing? Those companies hope so.

Truth is, very few products are made from 100% recycled materials because it’s not easy and it costs more.

The ideal is both

It will come as no surprise that Good Citizens sunglasses frames are 100% ‘Recycled’. Our story is well-known. 100% recycled PET from a single-use plastic bottle which someone put in a recycling bin. 

It took us 752 days and 2,500 failed attempts to get it right. Truth is we could have launched in half the time if we’d mixed in some virgin plastic. We didn’t. Instead, we chased 100% at all costs so it didn’t cost the planet.

What may be new to you though is our glasses are also 100% ‘Recyclable’ – with no need for separation of elements. Everything (except the lenses) is made from 100% recycled PET plastic – hinges, arms, frames – and can simply be placed in your yellow bin at the end of their life.

Action point

Remember Recycled is 100% better.

Next time you’re shopping, check the label. If it says ‘Recycled’ ask what % is recycled and what % is new materials. Choose ‘Recycled’ if you can. And if the product is ‘Recyclable’, think about how easy it is to recycle and separate the bits at the end of life.  

Shop Now 

 Untrash the planet™


  • Rikki said:


    September 24, 2021

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