Recycling: Chances are your spectacles are not glass!

///Recycling: Chances are your spectacles are not glass!

While it is traditionally difficult to recycle some of the materials that our spectacles are made of, there exist other options that don’t involve the trash or landfills. Spectacles have helped many people around the world by improving their eyesight. It is estimated that 1-2 billion people in the world have a refractive error which results in the various sight-related problems. Of this, 660 million people do not wear glasses or have any eye correction products. Therefore, a significant number of people in the world wear a pair of glasses. If you hate throwing things away, then you might want to recycle your spectacles and save the environment. And while you are at it, don’t dispose of them with your bottles – chances are high that they’re not made from glass but from plastic (polycarbonate).


660 Million people

While the interval at which you may want to acquire new glasses or change lenses and frames vary, the constant is that a large number of these accessories can end up in the dump. It is very difficult to recycle spectacles and the best option is always to reuse or donate the ones that you don’t need to charities and other organizations.

Many nonprofits will offer to take your old glasses and give to needy people from all over the world. Alternatively, you can choose to lengthen the span of your current spectacles so that you will only need to change a few more times as opposed to every year.

What are your spectacles made of?

Spectacles are made of many little parts but primarily the frame and the lenses. The frame can be made from a wide variety of materials such as plastic or metal. Plastic frames can be acetate, nylon or zyl, which is a lightweight plastic material. The metal frames can be derived from stainless steel, aluminum, gold or titanium. Natural and more sustainable frame options include bone, wood or buffalo horn-these are quite expensive to acquire and rarely found. Instead, metal frames and plastic dominate the eye accessory market since they are cheap and ubiquitous.

The lenses of most glasses are made of plastic, which is quite the opposite of what most people assume. Plastic lenses are generally preferred to glass lenses because they are cheap, weigh less, are hard to break and can be coated with protective layers to shield your eyes from the penetrating ultraviolet rays. Besides their availability and cheapness, some advanced plastic lenses are resistant to scratching which makes them ideal for many people.

Nose pads, ear covers, screws and other decoration constitute the remaining elements of spectacles. These are the little parts that are actually more varied in their material makeup and very hard to recycle. For example, the little screws may be made from metals like steel or titanium. While it is easy to recycle steel and aluminum, it is almost impossible and costly to find a dealer who recycles titanium. Other parts like nose pads and decorative parts are insignificant to recycle. To this end, the best option is to reuse your old spectacles or donate them to a nonprofit organization who will further donate them to needy communities.

Recycling your spectacles

The glass lenses of your spectacles can be recycled in the same process as bottles and other materials made of glass. To begin with, you need to ensure that your lenses are made of pure glass and not plastic (polycarbonate)! Do not confuse. The anti-reflective coating of glass lenses is obtained from metallic oxides and soluble organic dyes to help in absorbing light of certain frequencies. Sunglasses and colored glass are coated using these soluble dyes to act as an anti-glare coating.

The glass recycling process begins when the glass is sorted according to color and washed to get rid of impurities and coating. It is then batched together and heated to a temperature of between 1427 to 1538 degrees Celsius where it can be created into any desired shape.

If polycarbonate products are recycled together with regular glass, then the whole recycling process will be contaminated. The recycled glass that has been contaminated in the process will produce defective end products which do not meet the industry standard. In addition, the recycling process for glass is very different from that of plastic. In most cases, the recycling of glass will involve the simple process of throwing same colored waste bottles and jars into a furnace so that they can be melted down and molded into a brand new glass product. On the other hand, plastic (polycarbonate) recycling involves a much-complicated process where each plastic type must be sorted out first. The wrong type of plastic mixed together can ruin the overall process.

Charities and programs to send your spectacles

There are numerous nonprofits, charities, and programs that collect old glasses and donates them to people in need. Some organizations partner with recycling companies that specialize in recycling parts of your old glasses such as the metallic frames and the glass lenses. This is a cost-effective method that ensures many visually challenged persons can get access to better eyesight at no cost to them. Some reputable charities and organizations to send your extra pair of spectacles include:

  • Vision aid overseas
  • Lions Club International
  • Marie Curie
  • New Eyes
  • ReSpectacle
  • Third World Eye Care Society Canada

You can also search online for organizations that accept used spectacles. In the United States, Lions Club International has locations in most parts of the country where you can mail your old glasses. Alternatively, websites such as Craigslist and eBay are perfect places to send your old glasses or donate them to those who might need them.

2018-08-05T08:26:19+00:00By |Categories: Glass, Recycling Material|0 Comments

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