Vision Unveiled

One Lens at a Time: Solving the Contact Lens Disposal Problem

The Problem of Improper Disposal of Contact LensesWe often think about recycling plastic bottles and paper, but what about those little pieces of plastic that we wear on our eyes every day? That’s right contact lenses.

While they may seem harmless, the improper disposal of contact lenses can have detrimental effects on the environment. In this article, we’ll explore the different ways contact lenses are improperly disposed of and the potential solutions that exist.

Flushing Contact Lenses:

One common way people dispose of contact lenses is by flushing them down the toilet or sink. This may seem like a convenient solution, but it’s far from environmentally friendly.

Contact lenses are made of a type of plastic called polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or hydrogel, which does not break down easily in water. When we flush them, they end up in our wastewater treatment plants, where they can cause numerous issues.

– Flushing contact lenses leads to the contamination of our freshwater sources, as these lenses do not get filtered out completely during the treatment process. – The plastic particles from contact lenses can absorb harmful chemicals present in the water, leading to a potential danger for marine life if they make their way into oceans and lakes.

Disposing Contact Lenses in Regular Trash:

Another improper method of contact lens disposal is throwing them in the regular trash. While this may seem harmless, it actually contributes to the increasing amount of waste in landfills.

– Landfills are already overflowing with plastic waste, and each year, millions of contact lenses are added to this pile. – Once contact lenses are in the landfill, they take a very long time to decompose, contributing to the ever-growing problem of plastic pollution.

Recycling Challenges:

You might be wondering, why can’t we just recycle contact lenses? Unfortunately, recycling contact lenses poses several challenges.

– Contact lenses are small and often get lost in the sorting process at recycling facilities, making it difficult for them to be properly recycled. – The different materials used in contact lenses, such as the PMMA or hydrogel, require specific recycling processes that are not widely available.

The ONE by ONE Recycling Program:

Despite these challenges, there is still hope for proper contact lens disposal. The ONE by ONE Recycling Program, developed by Bausch + Lomb and TerraCycle, aims to provide a solution for recycling contact lenses.

– The program accepts all brands of contact lenses and their blister packs for recycling. – Once collected, the contact lenses are separated from the blister packs and then cleaned and processed to be recycled into new products such as plastic lumber and bench boards.


Proper disposal of contact lenses is essential to protect our environment. Flushing contact lenses and throwing them in the regular trash are both harmful practices that contribute to pollution.

While there are challenges to recycling contact lenses, programs like ONE by ONE offer a glimmer of hope. By participating in these initiatives, we can ensure that our contact lenses are disposed of in an environmentally friendly way, reducing the impact on our planet.

So the next time you’re ready to dispose of your contact lenses, remember the bin, not the toilet or trash!

How to Participate in the Recycling Program

Recycling contact lenses may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually quite simple. There are two main ways to participate in the ONE by ONE Recycling Program: dropping off your contact lenses at your eye doctor’s office or shipping them to TerraCycle.

Drop-off at Eye Doctor’s Office:

One convenient option for participating in the recycling program is to drop off your contact lenses at your eye doctor’s office. Many eye care professionals have joined the program and serve as collection points for used contact lenses and blister packs.

Simply bring your used contact lenses and blister packs to your next appointment or drop them off during regular office hours. The staff will ensure that your contact lenses are properly collected and sent to TerraCycle for recycling.

– The drop-off option is not only convenient but also encourages regular visits to your eye doctor, promoting eye health and ensuring that your prescription remains up-to-date. – By participating in the program through your eye doctor’s office, you contribute to the collective effort of reducing the environmental impact of contact lens waste.

Shipping to TerraCycle:

If it’s not convenient for you to drop off your contact lenses at your eye doctor’s office, you can also participate in the ONE by ONE Recycling Program by shipping them directly to TerraCycle. Here’s how:


Gather your used contact lenses and blister packs: Before shipping, make sure to remove any residual solution from the contact lenses and separate them from the blister packs. 2.

Package the contact lenses: Place the used contact lenses in a sealable plastic bag to prevent them from getting lost during transit. If possible, include the blister packs as well.

3. Request a shipping label: Visit the TerraCycle website and navigate to the ONE by ONE Recycling Program page.

There, you will find instructions on how to request a free shipping label. Print the label and attach it securely to your package.

4. Ship your package: Take your package to your local postal service or drop it off at a designated shipping location.

Make sure to follow any specific instructions provided by the postal service or TerraCycle to ensure the safe delivery of your package. – The shipping option is a great alternative for individuals who don’t have easy access to eye doctor’s offices participating in the program.

– By shipping your contact lenses to TerraCycle, you can be confident that they will be properly recycled, preventing them from ending up in landfills or contaminating our water sources.

Benefits of Recycling Contact Lenses

Now that we’ve covered how to participate in the recycling program, let’s explore the benefits of recycling contact lenses. By recycling your used contact lenses and blister packs, you can make a positive impact on the environment and support charitable initiatives.

Environmental Impact:

Recycling contact lenses has a significant positive impact on the environment. By diverting contact lenses from landfills and water sources, we reduce the amount of plastic waste that pollutes our planet.

Here’s how recycling contact lenses helps:

– Conservation of resources: Recycling reduces the need for the production of new plastics and the extraction of raw materials, conserving energy and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. – Reduction of landfill waste: Contact lenses take a very long time to decompose in landfills, contributing to the ever-growing problem of plastic pollution.

Recycling them prevents them from adding to the landfill waste. – Prevention of water pollution: Flushing contact lenses leads to their presence in our freshwater sources, where they can absorb harmful chemicals and pose a danger to marine life.

By recycling contact lenses, we minimize water pollution and protect aquatic ecosystems. Charitable Support:

Another benefit of participating in the ONE by ONE Recycling Program is the opportunity to support charitable causes.

Bausch + Lomb and TerraCycle have partnered with Optometry Giving Sight, an organization that aims to provide access to eye care and glasses to those in need. Here’s how your participation helps:

– Charitable donations: For every kilogram of contact lenses and blister packs collected, a monetary donation is made to Optometry Giving Sight.

Your recycling efforts directly contribute to funding eye care programs and initiatives worldwide, helping individuals who lack the resources to access proper vision care. – Community impact: By participating in the program, you become part of a global community working together to make a difference.

Your involvement creates a ripple effect that extends beyond the recycling process, positively impacting individuals and communities worldwide. Conclusion:

Recycling contact lenses is a simple yet impactful way to protect the environment and support charitable causes.

Whether you choose to drop off your contact lenses at your eye doctor’s office or ship them to TerraCycle, your participation in the ONE by ONE Recycling Program plays a crucial role in reducing plastic waste, preventing water pollution, and improving access to eye care. Join the movement today and be a part of the solution!

Repurposing Contact Lenses

Recycling contact lenses is an excellent way to reduce waste and protect the environment. However, have you ever wondered what happens to those recycled contact lenses?

In this section, we will delve into the recycling process and explore the range of products that can be made from recycled contact lenses. Recycling Process:

The recycling process for contact lenses begins with the collection and sorting of the used lenses.

Once collected, the contact lenses are separated from their packaging, such as blister packs and other plastic materials. After this initial sorting step, the recycling process continues as follows:


Cleaning and sanitation: The contact lenses are subjected to a thorough cleaning and sanitation process to remove any traces of residual solution, makeup, or debris. 2.

Shredding and grinding: The cleaned contact lenses are then mechanically shredded and ground into small, uniform pieces. This step is crucial in breaking down the lenses into manageable fragments for further processing.

3. Plastic separation: The shredded contact lenses are processed through various separation techniques, such as gravity separation and air classification, to separate the plastic fragments from other materials.

4. Extrusion and pelletization: The separated plastic fragments are melted and extruded into small pellets, a process known as extrusion and pelletization.

These pellets can then be used as raw material for the manufacturing of new plastic products. Products Made from Recycled Contact Lenses:

The recycling process transforms used contact lenses into new and useful products.

Here are some examples of the types of products that can be made from recycled contact lenses:

Garden Beds and Landscaping Materials:

Recycled contact lenses, when combined with other recycled plastics, can be used to create durable and eco-friendly garden beds. These garden beds provide a sustainable alternative to traditional wooden beds and offer excellent drainage and aeration for plants.

Additionally, recycled contact lenses can be further processed into landscaping materials such as pavers and edging, adding to the eco-friendly aesthetic of outdoor spaces. Picnic Tables and Benches:

Recycled contact lenses can also be used in the construction of picnic tables and benches.

By combining the recycled contact lens pellets with other recycled plastics or materials, manufacturers can create sturdy and weather-resistant outdoor furniture. These products not only provide comfortable seating and dining options but also minimize the demand for new plastic production and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills.

Plastic Lumber:

Another innovative use of recycled contact lenses is in the production of plastic lumber. This type of recycled plastic material can be used to create a variety of outdoor structures, such as decks, fences, and playground equipment.

Plastic lumber made from recycled contact lenses offers the same durability and versatility as traditional lumber but with the added benefit of being eco-friendly and reducing our reliance on natural resources. Other Plastic Products:

Recycled contact lenses can also be incorporated into the production of various other plastic products.

From automotive components to household items like storage containers and office supplies, the possibilities are endless. By using recycled contact lenses as a raw material, manufacturers can reduce their ecological footprint and help build a more sustainable future.

The Value of

Repurposing Contact Lenses:

Repurposing contact lenses through recycling not only reduces waste but also presents several benefits:

1. Resource conservation: By repurposing contact lenses, manufacturers can reduce the need for virgin plastics, conserving valuable resources and minimizing environmental impact.

2. Energy savings: The production of new plastics requires significant energy consumption.

By using recycled contact lenses, energy consumption can be reduced, leading to lower carbon emissions and a more sustainable manufacturing process. 3.

Consumer awareness: The availability of products made from recycled contact lenses helps raise awareness among consumers regarding the importance of recycling and sustainable consumption. It encourages individuals to actively participate in recycling programs and make consciously eco-friendly choices.


Repurposing contact lenses through recycling is a practical and effective way to reduce waste and protect the environment. The recycling process transforms used contact lenses into valuable raw material, which can be used to create a wide range of new products.

Whether it’s garden beds, picnic tables, plastic lumber, or other plastic items, repurposing contact lenses helps conserve resources, save energy, and promote sustainable practices. So, the next time you wear contact lenses, remember the possibility of giving them a second life through recycling it’s a small step towards a greener future.

Proper disposal and recycling of contact lenses are vital for protecting the environment. Flushing contact lenses and throwing them in the regular trash contribute to water pollution and landfill waste.

However, the ONE by ONE Recycling Program offers a solution through convenient drop-off options at eye doctor’s offices or shipping directly to TerraCycle. Recycling contact lenses not only reduces plastic waste but also supports charitable initiatives.

Repurposing contact lenses into products like garden beds, picnic tables, and plastic lumber further minimizes our ecological footprint. By participating in recycling programs and choosing sustainable practices, we can play a crucial role in building a greener future.

Let’s remember to dispose of our contact lenses responsibly and make a difference, one lens at a time.

Popular Posts