It’s easy to underestimate the impact Eastman’s carbon renewal technology has, and will continue to have, on the eyewear sector, using sustainable acetate and plastics for injection moulding. It’s a genuine sustainability gamechanger at every price point.

It’s just one example in a sector that’s making significant improvements, but there are plenty of others that shouldn’t be overlooked. Brands using additive manufacturing (3D printing) are now able to leverage bio-based polyimide PA11 derived from responsibly sourced plants that don’t add to deforestation. When you consider the inherent lack of waste in the production process of 3D printed eyewear and the avoidance of overproduction and unsold stock, it’s clear that this method needs to have a bigger say in the sustainable eyewear sector and appear on more practices’ racks.

While a patient is unlikely to come into a practice and ask for frames made using additive manufacturing or with carbon renewal technology, having the authenticity and transparency that these products and materials offer makes the presentation of a practice’s sustainable collections so much easier. And patient demand is obviously there, because the number of eyewear brands entering the market with eco-friendly products is mushrooming. At Silmo last month, ‘green’ eyewear brands were everywhere, but you can’t help but feel that if you scratch away at the surface, that authenticity won’t be there.

Sadly, other parts of optics aren’t moving at the same speed. They face their own set of environmental challenges and issues around waste, but if you look at the pace at which the eyewear sector is moving, the rest are being left behind.

The sustainability movement in optics is in its infancy, but that doesn’t mean the industry has to take baby steps. It’s easy to embrace change that benefits the planet, patients and ultimately, profit. Expect much more on sustainability from Optician in 2023.