Can You Recycle Contact Lenses? πŸ”: In a world where eco-consciousness and environmental responsibility is at the forefront of our minds, we turn our focus to the little things that can make a big difference. Enter contact lensesβ€”a convenient and popular vision aid for millions worldwide. But did you know that improper disposal of contact lenses contributes to the plastic pollution crisis, affecting our planet’s delicate ecosystems? Join us as we shed light on a critical yet often-overlooked topic: contact lens recycling. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of recycling contact lenses, the impact of their disposal on the environment, and the innovative initiatives that empower us to make a positive change for our planet. It’s time to see sustainability through a whole new lens!

We have already talked about recycling prescription glasses, therefore you may already have an idea where you want to send your pair. However, what about contact lenses? Do we have the means to recycle contact lenses in Australia?

Over the years, contact lenses have become a more popular option than ever for Aussies to help them with their sight. More than 680,000 people aged between 15 to 64 years wear contact lenses in Australia.

A few friends of mine, for instance, recently switched from wearing glasses to contact lenses. One benefit that they say is that it feels more ‘natural’ than wearing a pair of glasses. Moreover, they now play physical activities or sports with more freedom as opposed to wearing glasses.

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A bit of seeing and thinking

Of course, this led me to initially believe that contact lenses are better than a pair of prescription glasses. However, this got me suddenly thinking: what about sustainable options for them? Are they better than glasses?

After all, the blog about glasses recycling I mentioned above states that we have several programs in Australia that accept glasses for recycling. However, the same cannot be mentioned for used contact lenses.

Again, this scenario got me thinking: Can contact lenses even be recycled? We here at Waster did a bit of research so you do not have to!

Below, we share whether or not you can recycle contact lenses and some viable options to deal with them here in Australia.


More on if we can recycle contact lenses

Contact lenses, typically composed of non-biodegradable materials like hydrogel, silicone hydrogel, or non-hydrogel variants, present challenges in recycling due to their small size and limited options for recovery.

Specialised recycling for contact lenses does exist in Australia. Lions Recycle for Sight Australia, for example, can help you recycle spectacles, unused contact lenses and hearing aids.

Whilst specialised recycling facilities exist in certain regions, in many areas, it can be a bit difficult, or better yet, is not a practical choice to recycle contact lenses and some parts of their packaging. Instead, the most responsible disposal method is through general waste or simply rubbish bins, where local councils or licensed contractors can handle it appropriately.

It is crucial never to dispose of used lenses by washing them down the sink or flushing them down the toilet, as this can result in the release of plastics into marine environments, causing pollution and ecological harm.

However, you may be able to recycle the packaging your contact lenses come in, depending on its brand. We suggest you check with your local council to learn more.


TerraCycle for businesses

Businesses, on the other hand, have an option, albeit a paid one, to recycle contact lenses. TerraCycle has a Zero Waste Box available that specifically collects and recycles contact lenses. Check out the link to learn more.

If you have other hard-to-recycle waste you want to take care of as a business, then we offer a wide range of TerraCycle Zero Waste Boxes. Check them out!


Harmful impacts of contact lenses

Despite their small size, contact lenses can pose a significant threat to the environment when not handled responsibly. Below, we give you some of the adverse effects contact lenses can cause if we do not find a way to recycle – or, at the very least – dispose of them properly:

  • Plastic Pollution: As mentioned above, the majority of contact lenses are made from a type of plastic called hydrogel or silicone hydrogel. When disposed of incorrectly or not recycled, these contact lenses can end up in landfills or make their way into water bodies. Since contact lenses are small and lightweight, they are easily carried by wind and water, contributing to plastic pollution.
  • Microplastics: Over time, contact lenses can break down into smaller fragments known as microplastics. These microplastics are a major concern as they can enter water sources, harming aquatic life and even entering the food chain, posing risks to both wildlife and human health.
  • Sewer System Issues: Many people dispose of their contact lenses by flushing them down the toilet, thinking it’s a quick and convenient solution. However, flushing contact lenses down the drain can lead to blockages and issues in sewer systems, adding to the burden of waste management.

More harmful impacts

  • Water Contamination: The chemicals used in contact lens solutions can also have adverse effects on water quality when lenses are discarded inappropriately or not recycled when such an option is available. The release of these chemicals into the environment can harm aquatic ecosystems and disrupt the delicate balance of water bodies.
  • Marine Life Threat: Marine animals, such as fish and birds, may mistakenly ingest discarded contact lenses, leading to internal injuries and even death. This ingestion can occur when contact lenses are present in water bodies or through the food chain.

Overall, the improper disposal of contact lenses can contribute to the global plastic pollution crisis and harm the environment in various ways. It is essential to raise awareness about the environmental impact of contact lenses and promote responsible recycling practices to mitigate these detrimental effects.


More information about Waster

Does your Australian-based business need waste and recycling services? If so, then you have come to the right website!

Please call 1300 WASTER (1300 927 837).Β  You can also email us atΒ [email protected]Β if you have any further questions. Find the best deals in terms of waste and recycling pricing and services!


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