UK’s first national recycling scheme launched for contact lenses

Consumer goods giant Johnson & Johnson has teamed up with Boots Opticians and recycling firm Terracycle to launch the first UK-wide recycling scheme for contact lenses and their packaging.

UK’s first national recycling scheme launched for contact lenses

The programme will collect lenses

Under the scheme, which launched today (15 January), TerraCycle has developed a method of recycling the lenses and their blister packs, which are often not collected by local authorities due to a lack of infrastructure that can process them. 

TerraCycle’s solution involves washing, separating and shredding the items before melting them and forming them into plastic pellets. The pellets are then remoulded for inclusion in new plastic products such as outdoor furniture and fence posts.

In order to collect a consistent stream of end-of-life products and packaging for recycling, Johnson & Johnson has partnered with pharmacy giant Boots to launch 615 in-store waste collection points at its optician branches. A further 35 collection points have been set up by independent opticians, with the total number of facilities expected to surpass 1,000 by the end of 2019.

“As a business, we are committed to doing our part to combat climate change, protect our planet’s natural resources and reduce waste, and this new UK recycling programme represents the next step in our company’s sustainability commitment,” Johnson & Johnson Vision Care’s area vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Sandra Rasche said.

“During our survey of 1,000 British contact lens wearers, 77% said they would recycle their contact lenses if they could, and we share their interest in reducing the amount of plastics in the environment.”

The launch of the scheme comes after Johnson & Johnson’s survey, which was conducted last November, found that more than one-third (39%) of contact lens consumers claim to be “confused” about how to dispose of their contact lenses responsibly. As a result, one-fifth are believed to regularly flush their contact lenses or blister and foil packaging down the toilet.

In order to reach as many of the 3.7 million UK residents who wear contact lenses as possible, the scheme will collect waste from any brand.

Awareness raising

To ensure that customers are aware of the recycling scheme, Boots Opticians and TerraCycle will display material promoting the service in their stores and on their websites.

Contact lens brand Acuvue will also host on-pack and online information about the scheme.

Independent retailers and individual customers, meanwhile, will be encouraged via printed information and a dedicated website to sign up to become collectors. Alternatively, customers have the option to send their waste to TerraCycle from theirs homes or offices, using the company’s free courier pick up service.

The scheme is the latest in a string of recycling campaigns which have seen TerraCycle partner with big-name businesses of late. The firm has forged new partnerships with Mars PetcareColgate Palmolive and Kellogg in recent months, launching schemes targeting pet food packaging, oral healthcare products and Pringles cans. 

TerraCycle is also working with Pepsico subsidiary Walkers to run the UK’s first nationwide collection scheme for crisp packets, and co-operates a biscuit packet recycling programme with confectionary giant pladis UK & Ireland.

edie’s Mission Possible Plastics Hub

edie has today (15 January) launched the Mission Possible Plastics Hub – a brand-new content-driven campaign that will support sustainability and resource efficiency professionals on our collective mission to eliminate single-use plastics.

In addition to hosting content that supports businesses with their single-use plastics phase-outs, the Mission Possible Plastics Hub will be encouraging sustainability professionals to submit new commitments to tackle plastic pollution on the Mission Possible Pledge Wall.

If your company has an existing plastics commitment, or if you’re planning a new commitment over the coming months, you can showcase it on the Mission Possible Pledge Wall.


(By submitting a pledge, edie readers are agreeing to the commitment, target date and expected benefits being published on the Mission Possible Pledge Wall, along with their name and job title. They are also agreeing to being contacted by a member of the edie editorial team, should any further information about their pledge be required.)

Taking place on Thursday: edie’s single-use plastics business transformation webinar

Sustainability professionals seeking more insight on how best to reducing or eliminate single-use plastics can tune in to edie’s free webinar, entitled ‘Single-use plastics: How to lead a business transformation’, on Thursday (17 January) at 2pm. 

Featuring expert speakers from A Plastic Planet, Sky and Cranswick, the hour-long session will combine best-practice case studies with expert insights to give you a clear way forward in your organisation’s approach to plastics. 


Sarah George 

Comments (1)

  1. Luke Douglas-Home says:

    Specifically, what type of plastic is the contact lens?

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