What should I do with my used contact lenses?
Contact lenses are not biodegradable and are generally made from plastic type materials such as hydrogel, silicone hydrogel, or non-hydrogel variants.
It is possible to recover and recycle contact lenses and parts of the packaging, but it’s usually not a practical option due to their small size and limitations of local authority collections.
Some areas can provide specialist recycling options for contact lens materials – but where these services aren’t available, the best way to dispose of them is with the general waste, where local authorities or licensed contractors can responsibly dispose of them.
It’s important that you never wash your used lenses down the sink or flush them down the toilet. Ultimately, this can lead to the plastics being discharged to and polluting marine environments.
What should I do with the packaging?
The packaging your contact lenses come in is made from a number of materials, most of which can be recycled. There will be a slight variation between brands, so it’s always best to check both the packaging and with your local authority.
What can be recycled?
Plastic blister packs (without the foil lids)
These are made from PP (polypropylene) plastic and are generally accepted for recycling, however you must remove the foil lids. PP may be referred to as ketchup bottles, carrier bags or takeaway tubs.
The box your lenses come in can be recycled at local recycling points and some household collection schemes.
These are usually made from HDPE (High-density polythene) plastic and may be referred to as detergent bottles, margarine tubs, bottle caps or milk jugs.
They might also be made from PET (polythene terephthalate) plastic and may be referred to as single use clear plastic bottles.
What can't be recycled?
- Contact lenses
- Foil lid on the blister packs
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