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 — the clear plastic lenses used across the industry to maintain frame shape and integrity while in transit, on display, and for try-on. 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. Acetate Renew is chemically and physically identical to traditional acetate; it offers a sustainable solution with no compromise to aesthetics, durability, or performance. 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 f