Research Article| Volume 45, ISSUE 2, 101435, April 2022

An investigation into disposal and recycling options for daily disposable and monthly replacement soft contact lens modalities

Published:March 11, 2021DOI:



      To examine the annualised waste and end-of-life disposal options with two representative soft contact lens (CL) modalities.


      The component parts of two representative soft CL modalities were catalogued, separated, weighed and inspected for material identification: somofilcon A soft CLs (clariti elite, CooperVision Inc.) used with multi-purpose solution (MPS) (All in one Light, CooperVision Inc.) and somofilcon A CLs (clariti 1 day, CooperVision Inc). Using a model that assumed compliant wear and care of CLs, the mass of material solid waste generated by CL use over a year was calculated. Disposal options were explored using household and specialist recycling streams in order to develop recommendations for responsible disposal of CL waste.


      Full-time daily disposable (DD) CL wear generates 1.06 kg of waste annually compared to 0.83 kg generated by reusable-monthly replacement daily wear (‘reusable’) CLs. Plastic was the dominant material in both modalities. With full-time use of DD CLs, 64% of waste by mass was plastic blister trays. For full-time use of reusable CLs, where figures from lens and MPS packaging are combined, plastics accounted for 67% of waste by mass. MPS bottles alone made up almost half the waste (45%) associated with full-time reusable CL wear.


      Full-time DD wear generates 27% more waste annually than full-time reusable lens wear. Reusable CL wearers can recycle 78% of waste at home. DD lens wearers have access to recycling options that allow them to recycle 100% of CL related waste. Full-time CL lens wear represents just 0.20–0.26% of the 412 kg of household waste generated per person, per year in the United Kingdom. Worn CLs should never be disposed of down the sink or lavatory. CL wearers should be aware of responsible end-of-life recycling and disposal options for all CL waste.


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