When it comes to eyewear, we often prioritise style and functionality, but it's equally essential to consider the environmental impact of the manufacturing process. Traditional eyewear manufacturing, which has been the standard for decades, gives rise to several environmental concerns. In this blog, we will delve into these issues and highlight the shift towards more sustainable eyewear options.
Concern 1: Material Waste and Energy Consumption
One of the most significant concerns associated with traditional eyewear manufacturing is the wastage of materials. Frames are typically crafted using CNC (Computer Numerical Control) processes, cutting them from larger material pieces, resulting in a substantial amount of waste. This wasteful process not only depletes valuable resources but also drives up production costs. Additionally, the energy required to finish eyewear, including polishing and coating, contributes to carbon emissions and energy consumption. Interestingly, it can take weeks for a frame part to be meticulously smoothed in what look like giant industrial washing machines full of sand paper and cork to achieve a flawless finish.
At Good Citizens we have a zero waste and zero post finishing process. We essentially melt the bottle and use all the plastic to make the entire frame and hinges. It took over 2503 failed attempts to perfect this globally awarded manufacturing innovation.
Concern 2: Mixed Materials Hindering Recycling
Many eyeglass frames incorporate mixed materials, including metal hinges, brand logos, and nose bridges, which pose significant challenges for recycling. The presence of these mixed materials prevents the frames from being efficiently recycled as a mono-material (meaning the entire frame, including hinges, is made from a single material. Good Citizens uses just one single-use plastic bottle to make all parts). This mono-material characteristic is crucial for an effective recycling process. Regrettably, due to these mixed materials, most eyewear frames end up in landfill.
Concern 3: Misconceptions About Bio Acetate
Bio acetate has been marketed as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic frames. However, there are misconceptions regarding its biodegradability. Contrary to popular belief, bio acetate frames do not naturally break down on their own. They require industrial composting facilities to decompose properly. This means that tossing your bio acetate frames into your backyard compost won't magically make them disappear. Unfortunately, industrial composters typically do not accept eyewear frames. This poses a significant challenge in the eyewear industry, and as a result, almost all bio acetate frames end up in landfill. When a brand promotes bio acetate as a solution, it's essential to inquire about their end-of-life composting process. Frames won't decompose in your garden within 115 days, it's an urban myth!
Top 5 Tips for Sustainable Eyewear Shopping:
1. Percentage of Recycled Material: When seeking sustainable eyewear, scrutinise the actual percentage of recycled material. Brands like Good Citizens offer 100% recycled frames, setting a leading global standard for eco-conscious consumers.
2. Beware of brands that label their products as "recyclable." Virgin new plastic can be labeled recyclable, but frames can only be recycled if they are not a mix of materials such as metal hinges and screws. If you can't disassemble their frame in less than 20 seconds to separate parts, it's highly likely it will end up in a landfill. (Ours take 8 seconds to pull apart!)
A product labeled "recycled" means the plastic was previously used for something else, like ours, which used to be a water bottle and is now your new glasses.
3. Repairability: Consider whether the eyewear you're interested in can be easily repaired. Brands like Good Citizens design their glasses with only five replaceable parts, allowing for quick and hassle-free repairs, thus extending the lifespan of your eyewear. See image below.
4. Transparency and Certification: Research on a brands website where the eyewear is manufactured. Brands committed to sustainability will provide information about their production locations and certifications. For example, Good Citizens manufactures its frames in a solar-powered factory in Sydney, demonstrating a commitment to clean energy production.
5. End-of-Life Responsibility: Finally, inquire about the brand's approach to end-of-life product management. Brands like Good Citizens cover all costs for returns and ensure that plastic components find a new purpose rather than ending up in landfills.
Any questions please contact us
Good Citizens is a global fashion leader in sustainable design. All of our sunglasses, readers and prescription frames are 100% recycled from one 600ml discarded plastic bottle. We prioritise sustainable business practices, from using 100% recycled materials, being carbon negative (not just carbon neutral) to our modular design that allows for easy repair and recycling of broken parts.
We're the most awarded eyewear brand in Australia and globally acknowledged for our best practice approach.
Help us untrash the planet®