4 mins read | Sustainable Design

What exactly is bio-acetate?

What are sustainable sunglasses made from?

Let’s start at the beginning, Bio acetate or eco acetate sounds fancy, but in fact, it’s pretty simple. The Pala Sunglasses collection will always be exclusively made using bio acetate. 

What is Bio acetate?

If the acetate is expressly bio-acetate or manufactured in a regulated environment (for example, Italy, under the European Union’s strict REACH chemical guidelines), then you can be fairly confident that the workers are protected from harm. You can check out all the materials we use in our sustainable sunglasses here.

How Sunglasses were made?

Since moving away from crafting frames from actual tortoiseshell (hence the now commonly used name for a mottled, brown colour!), sunglasses frames have generally been made of acetate. Known for being lightweight and flexible to allow frames to bend slightly and return to their original shape instead of breaking when pressure is applied, this versatile material is comprised of a polymer derived from wood pulp and other nit’sal cotton fibres. And it’s been sat firmly at the number one spot for sunglasses and glasses for, most of our lifetime.

Why Cellulose Acetate is used for sunglasses?

It is made from primarily renewable materials,it’s hypoallergenic, it can be created in a full spectrum of colours. It can be easily adjusted by opticians if you need the fit tweaked.It’s been a front runner in the eyewear industry for decades, we have made many of our older frames from it, but there is one problem with this option, it is called plasticisers.

To create acetate material, you need to add a plasticiser into the mix. These contain a petroleum derivative, but as suppliers around the world look to innovate to lessen their impact on the planet. We see companies such as Mazzucchelli (the people behind the materials used in our Sunglasses collection), developing solutions to go greener, by replacing this chemical as far as they can with a bio-based alternative.

male and female wearing bio-acetate sunglasses

What is Bio-Acetate?

It is a material where the plasticisers used in production have a far higher percentage of content from renewable sources (87% in MazzucchelliMazzucchelli’seir M49 sheets) versus their more-traditional counterparts.

What does using Bio Acetate mean?

Using Bio Acetate means that your sunglasses will biodegrade more quickly at the end of their economic life and, which is better for our planet. Plus, it reduces our reliance on non-renewable resources.

What qualifies as being certified ‘bio-degradable’?

The industry standard for biodegradability is UNI-EN-ISO 14855-2: 2018, which means that biodegradation of the cellulose acetate must exceed 90% after 115 days of incubation. Now we should add that this has to be the right conditions. The biodegradation rate depends on real-life situations in the home composter or the composting plant your frames end up. Indeed do you know if you have a local composting plant in the first instance? Perhaps a journal piece for another time.

The flip side of this is that unless you wish to store your sunglasses in warm soil when not wearing them, there will be no impairment on your frames during their lifetime on your face.

For Pala Eyewear, we see bio-based acetate as the best solution in the market for producing high-performance frames that are better for the planet. All styles added to the Pala Sunglasses collection will always be exclusively made using bio acetate. Our latest non-polarised lenses are made from 39.5% castor bean, too, so we are making in-road we here too.

We’ll always be seek the best solution, and as science and tech improve material compositions for lessening environmental impact, you can be sure we will be one of the first to react and champion that in our eyewear.

We want you to get outdoors and enjoy the incredible playground that this planet provides in a light-touch way as possible; if we can help by equipping you with the equally light-touch pair of frames to accompany you on that journey, then all the better for it.


bio-acetate sunglasses frame
Pendo bio-Acetate Sunglasses Frame