Circular economy?

What is circular economy? The circular economy is an evolution of the way the world produces and consumes both goods and services. The way manufacturers produce today, we take materials from the earth, make products from them, and eventually throw them away as waste – the process is linear, and an enormously wasteful economic model.

The circular model redefines the economy around principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible. It also means redesigning products to be more durable, reusable, repairable, and recyclable

man holding recycle sign

The issue for the eyewear industry?

Broken frames or frames that are beyond repair end up in landfill, and as deemed a smaller item in the grand scheme of plastic, are often tossed in the bin. They cannot be put in the recycling from home. In the UK alone this sees more than 3.5 million frames alone heading to landfill. The economics of re-using old frames do not stack up either. Additionally, frames are rarely built from materials that are designed to last or be repairable (unless at great expense).

There is no doubt that there is much that needs to be done in our industry.

What is Pala doing?

Our desire as a business is to always be looking at the principles of circular economy and applying them where we can. For durability, we stand by the quality of eyewear – we want them to last you as long as possible. We will be offering replacement parts too in the near future so that an accidentally scratch doesn’t mean an expensive trip to the opticians.

We do currently provide a recycling service to our UK customers; indeed, we will take back any old frames you may have lurking in the bottom of a drawer. These are held in one of our Zero Waste Boxes at our warehouse until full, and then sent on to Terracycle where they are broken down and upcycled into new products (e.g. watering cans, road cones). It might not be in a fully circular solution in the sense of re-using waste materials into making new frames. There is innovation here, but not yet at a place that is either scalable or commercially viable.

Person holding old spectacle frames for recycling

The long term

Regardless, there is much to be done. This is an industry-wide problem, and it needs many people from many businesses coming together to find a solution.  It is the responsibility of all makers to have economic solutions for when frames become obsolete and prevent them from ending up in landfill and Pala will always be a part of those conversations.