Where do you take old prescription glasses?

Before you throw those defunct specs in the bin, stop and think where they could end up. Discarded lenses and frames contribute to plastic waste and environmental harm. So where do you take old prescription glasses to be recycled?

You can’t currently recycle old pairs of glasses through the local council, so Pritchard Cowburn can arrange recycling for you at our Cardigan optician stores. You’ll avoid adding more waste to landfills and polluting the environment. Unwanted specs can be recycled to make new things but only through specialist companies.

Old prescription glasses add to the world’s plastic waste

Nearly 7 in 10 people in Great Britain wear glasses (College of Optometrists). With a total population of some 67 million people, that’s a huge number of spectacles in circulation.

Here in Wales, 73% of us have our eyes tested every two years (National Survey for Wales 2018) – which for most is the recommended frequency. It is most often at such routine eye tests that a change in prescription is identified and then it’s time to consider a new pair – of lenses at least.

We might think of prescription glasses as being relatively small things. Almost all lenses are made of plastic though, as are a large number of frames. And the cumulative number of binned spectacles easily adds up to a huge volume of plastic waste and other materials that cause pollution. Most old glasses still end up in landfills or worse, find their way into the oceans and the wider environment.

And the figures are eye-watering. Be Kind, an environment and sustainability magazine, recently reported that 100,000 tonnes of plastic are wasted from discarded spectacles around the world every year. That’s roughly the same weight as 300 jumbo jets.

old prescription glasses
Old prescription glasses can add to the world’s plastic waste

What are the potential options for old prescription glasses?

The most environmentally friendly option of all for old glasses is simply to reuse them. Unless your prescription has changed there’s no reason not to. However, for many people, their vision does alter over time so they’ll require new lenses. Of course, you can still continue with the same frames unless they’re broken beyond repair. Eyewear fashions change all the time though and some people enjoy refreshing their look with a new pair of frames.

It might be that you have friends or family you could give the frames to. If they’re a nice designer pair they could be particularly grateful. Alternatively, you could even find a new use for your old prescription glasses. Giving them to children for dress up games or keeping them yourself for a fancy dress party for example.

For most people though, there is likely a better alternative: giving old specs to a specialist recycling company. And Pritchard Cowburn will do this for you.

Where do you take old prescription glasses in Wales?

Pritchard Cowburn has entered into a partnership with Recycline. The specialist recycling company will separate all of the base materials of each pair of glasses they collect from us and process them so they can be used to make completely new things.

Simply bring your old prescription glasses – frames and lenses – along to our opticians in Cardigan and opticians in Narberth and pop them in the special collection box.