Warby Parker Partners With Eastman to Launch New Demo Lens Molecular Recycling Program

Warby Parker announced a new partnership with Eastman to pioneer a first-of-its-kind demo lens molecular recycling program.

One of the greatest environmental impacts within the eyewear industry is the lack of a recycling solution for demo lenses. With the 600 million frames produced annually industry-wide, this practice accounts for over 5,000 tonnes of waste per year globally. For years, Warby Parker has researched alternative materials for discarding the plastic alongside downstream solutions, all of which have fallen short due to quality and this type of plastic being incredibly difficult to break down.

Since the summer of 2021, discarded demo lenses from Warby Parker’s optical labs, located in Sloatsburg, NY, and Las Vegas, NV, have been sent to Eastman’s facility in Kingsport, TN, where Carbon Renewal Technology is used to break the lenses down to their molecular level. Once broken down, the molecules are reused as the building blocks to create Eastman Acetate Renew—an acetate exclusively supplied by Eastman that is 60% bio-based and 40% certified recycled content. The brand plans to begin incorporating Acetate Renew into some of its frames later this year.

As the only eyewear brand to recycle its demo lenses with Eastman while sourcing Acetate Renew for new eyewear, Warby Parker is making progress toward a circular solution and lowering the environmental impact of producing its frames.

“From day one, Warby Parker has set out to find innovative solutions to everyday problems—and along the way, we’ve taken a stakeholder-centric approach. We’re committed to evaluating how our operations impact our employees, customers, and the environment, and our partnership with Eastman exemplifies this commitment,” said Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker. “We hope that others in the eyewear industry will join us as we work towards solutions to lessen our impact on the planet and its people.”

“Warby Parker’s commitment to reduce the impact of their products on the environment has been evident throughout this project. Eastman appreciates their commitment to take action and change the status quo,” said Scott Ballard, Eastman’s vice president and general manager of specialty plastics. “The demo lens to Acetate Renew breakthrough is the first of what we expect to be many examples of Eastman customers leveraging our molecular recycling technologies to divert material from landfill and lower carbon emissions.”

Click HERE for the full press release.

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