By Orwell Wan, BD8 Ecoplastics
Every country strives to reduce her carbon emission and promotes to use less plastic. Every year, 400 million ophthalmic frames are produced in the industry and 4000 tones of demo lens are wasted. The land required to cover the lens is equivalent to 1/3 of the area of Central Park, New York. The level of plastic contamination, particularly from the eyewear industry is certainly alarming. Nowadays, 60% of plastic wastes will go to landfills, 25% to incineration, 13% to recycling and 2% to litter.
However, in the eyewear industry, there is no well-established recycling or waste management system at the moment. Demo lenses, eyeglasses, and polybags are disposed into garbage bins and eventually to landfills. Some might be recycled, but not significantly. Biodegradable materials are capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms and thereby pollution is avoided. Currently, there are 2 types of biodegradation: Compost (aerobic) and Landfill (anaerobic).
Compost biodegradation happens only in designated industrial composting facilities. The anaerobic biodegradation process consists of microorganisms using chemicals other than oxygen as an electron acceptor during the chemical breakdown process. ISO14855 describes a test method for industrial compost, but without clear pass and fail criteria that could serve as the basis for proper biodegradability claims and labelling.
Landfill biodegradable polybags and demo lenses are proven to be biodegradable according to ISO 15985 and the said biodegradation is relatively linear. Eventually, these products would be estimated fully biodegraded after approx. 5 years. During the landfill degradation, there is a landfill green energy program taking place. Landfill gas contains approximately 60% methane which can be used in the same way as energy from fossil fuels to generate energy to heat and even produce electricity. The landfill green energy in the UK could produce 3.4 TWh of green electricity yearly across the UK.
Landfill biodegradable products are not only environmental friendly but also benefit our daily life with green electricity and are therefore revolutionary sustainable eyewear solutions to the industry.