Valeant Pharmaceuticals, parent company of Bausch + Lomb, recently announced the status of its unique contact lens recycling program, which seeks to reduce the carbon footprint generated by the eye health industry. According to a press release published by financial news website MarketWatch, the ONE Recycling program managed by Bausch Lomb has thus far collected more than 2.5 million used contact lenses along with its packaging materials.
This recycling program is being conducted with the assistance of TerraCycle, a leader in the reusable materials industry. According to Bausch + Lomb, nearly 14,000 pounds of contact lenses and its packages have been prevented from reaching the landfill; instead, the materials have been separated and turned into styrenes, molds, consumer products, and industrial materials.
Contact lens wearers are given a couple of options to participate in the program; they can visit a local opthalmology clinic and deposit their expired lenses and packages in a special bin that is later delivered to a recycling center. The clinics can then call to request a special shipping label and make arrangements for free pickup.
Bausch + Lomb estimates that the seven tons of recycled materials are equivalent to the weight of a small Cessna aircraft. The company has been involved in this program since late 2016, and it hopes to increase the pace of recycling.
In addition to finding a new use for the materials, the Bausch + Lomb recycling program has a charitable component. For every two pounds of materials collected, the company will donate one dollar to the Optometry Giving Sight organization, which is engaged in a global effort to provide free eye exams, glasses and even surgeries to needy patients. Through this initiative, the program has already donated more than $14,000.
The collection and reuse of medical waste is part of a larger effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the health care industry in the United States. While other industrial sectors have been involved in recycling for decades, health care leaders are just starting to join this effort.