Contact Lens Sustainability
Demand for contact lenses has been growing consistently for decades, but this growth presents its own sustainability challenges for the eyewear industry. Plastic microbeads* have long been around in the cosmetic industry, but disposable contact lenses are also guilty of contributing to this problem as they contain microbeads.
It’s estimated that 15-20% of disposable contact lenses wearers flush their daily contact lenses down the sink or toilet each day. Given that 304,000 million Australians use daily contact lenses, that is a serious amount of plastic entering the water table annually.
Once in the water, microbeads pose a threat to wildlife, who ingest the plastic particles. This builds as smaller fish are consumed by bigger fish (who are in turn eaten by humans). If the plastic alone wasn’t enough concern, plastic actually binds to chemicals in the ocean, making it more resistant to environmental degradation.
* Microbeads are tiny solid plastic particles, measuring 1mm in diameter or less. They are deliberately added to cleaning products, skincare products and cosmetics to give exfoliating properties, create ‘gloss’ and to act as fillers to bulk out products. They are a type of microplastic, a more general term given to tiny plastic particles less than 5mm in diameter.