By David Goldberg

Canadians are some of the biggest waste producers on the planet.

In fact, a recent study suggests that our country of just 35 million people, in a world of more than seven billion, produces more garbage per capita than anywhere on Earth. 

And all those methane emissions from Canada’s more than 10,000 landfills are contributing to the rapidly escalating climate crisis.

During her now-famous and impassioned speech to the United Nations earlier this year, young climate activist Greta Thunberg scolded world leaders for failing to act on warnings from scientists and leaving this disaster in the hands of future generations.

In light of this, Optical Prism is taking a closer look at some of the eyewear manufacturers who are trying to make a difference by minimizing their carbon footprints.


Safilo, a worldwide leader in the design, manufacturing and distribution of sunglasses, optical frames and sports eyewear, has implemented a series of sustainability, environmental impact

and safety initiatives at the Longarone, Italy, facility.

This includes precious metal recycling, industrial water reuse – thus also reducing water usage and wastewater production – CO2 emission reduction and the improvement of workers’ health and safety indexes.

Safilo obtained the highest certifications in terms of quality, safety and corporate social responsibility – the most recent being the ISO 50001 energy management system certification which is currently underway. This was made possible thanks to various factors, such as energy efficiency, the use of sustainable, low-environmental impact materials and the reduction of carbon emissions, which are constantly monitored by external parties on all the production methods and technologies used.

Safilo has also introduced 100 per cent nickel-free production processes at its Longarone facility. These new methods have already been tested and are currently in use across all the production lines, from high-end to middle-segment eyewear products.

“Developing nickel-free decorative galvanic finishes was a top priority for Safilo to ensure the safety of workers and consumers alike,” says Fabio Roppoli, chief operations officer at Safilo. 

Although glasses come in direct contact with the skin only to a limited extent, they are among the accessories that may cause nickel allergies affecting one per cent of men and 10 per cent of women worldwide.

With approximately 1,000 workers, the Longarone facility is the largest of the four Safilo plants located in Veneto, Friuli and Lombardy. This state-of-the-art, end-to-end facility primarily focuses on the production of metal eyewear, covering the entire production cycle, and is at the forefront of technology.

Starting this fall, all of Safilo’s globally produced point-of-purchase marketing materials, namely counter cards or show cards, will be FSC certified, representing another significant step towards environmental sustainability.

To this end, any new printed point of purchase materials produced globally or locally in individual countries, will follow the same global directive.


Nestled in the mountains of Patagonia, Chile, Karün is unlike most other eyewear companies around the world.

“We inspire people to reflect over the question: what would the world look like if we understood that we are all nature?” explains Karün brand manager Dani Edwards.

“We do this by creating products which are made by protecting nature, learning from indigenous cultures and empowering local communities.”

Karün has committed to making high-quality sunglasses using only natural, noble or recycled materials and working alongside local communities in Patagonia.

The company’s work has even been profiled in National Geographic which wrote: “Wearing the company’s sunglasses isn’t a fashion statement, it’s a statement of change…when you buy a pair of Karün sunglasses, you’re helping to change the lives of the people of Patagonia.”

Karün’s most recently released Pacific line offers 10 new pairs of sunglasses and glasses made from recycled ocean plastics. Designed and sourced in Chile, each pair is guaranteed to have a positive impact on the environment and rural farmers across Patagonia. 


Zeal Optics is trying to push away from old plastic practices into a new era of plant-based materials.

“While other lenses are made from petroleum-based materials, Ellume Polarized lenses

and Z-Resin frames use a unique plant-based polymer as the bonding agent. This

material, made from the castor plant, delivers incredibly light, durable frames,” says Zeal’s Director of Marketing, Mike Lewis. 

At least three new looks from Zeal incorporate these more eco-friendly manufacturing processes. 

The Ridgway with its new polarized square frame is a go-to for that utilitarian look. It comes in matte khaki, matte black and matte red tortoise. 

The Sierra is a chic frame built to withstand any kind of adventure in any kind of weather. 

And finally, he Rampart lets you go from the trailhead to the bar in a pinch. 

“The full-wrap frame and Proflex rubber keeps these on your face during any adventure and the classic styling goes well with every happy hour,” explains Lewis. 



Dragon Eyewear is following a similar path according to Lauren Makofske, global brand director of Dragon Alliance.

“As Dragon continues to develop products that enhance an active and outdoor-oriented lifestyle, we felt it was the perfect time to introduce an environmentally-conscious material into our business practices,” she says. 

“By incorporating plant-based resin into our injected collections, we are taking the first step towards making a positive impact on the environment.”

Dragon Eyewear, a Marchon brand, offers dozens of models in their plant-based resin category. 

Styles range from the sleek and modern-looking Jump LL Ion with its wrap-around look and blue ion II coloured lenses to the more classic look of the Baile LL Polar frames now available in an assortment of colours for lenses and frames including matte dark tortoise and matte dark navy. 


In a world where approximately eight-million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into the oceans every day BD8 – Bio Plastics is offering an eco-friendly solution for contact lenses and plastics used in eyewear production 

Our bio-degradable plastics can be naturally broken down into carbon, water and biomass. 

BD8’s Bio Plastics are lightweight, durable, crystal clear, hypoallergenic and good for any colors, designs or patterns.

One of the BD8 products is “Bio Polybag”, a biodegradable plastic eyewear bag which can be naturally broken down in 5 years. With a high tensile and impact strength, this crystal clear product comes as the best alternative to oxo-degradable plastic eyewear bags

Another product deriving from BD8 is Bio Lens, a revolutionary 100% biodegradable lens that can be naturally decomposed into landfill. 


At MIDO Eyewear Show in February 2020., Vision of Tomorrow will launch its own eyewear collection made from recycled PET plastic bottles that is 100% eco-friendly. 

Fabio Ferracane, CEO of VOT, says developing eco-conscious products should be a top priority for all eyewear companies. 

“At a global level, the impact of plastic production and its inefficient disposal is causing catastrophic environmental effects,” says Ferracane. 

“If plastic production levels stay the same, plastic volume is expected to increase fourfold by 2050. For this reason industrial politics must take a new direction and eyewear companies should do their part, too.”


MODO’s Eco brand has collections of both biobased frames, made using castor seed oil, and recycled frames, which are created with 95 per cent recycled metal.

For fall/winter 2019, frames from both collections have magnetic sun clip-ons.

Eco also works with Trees for the Future to plant a tree for each pair of frames purchased.

“With the help of all our customers around the world, we’ve planted more than two million trees so far and that number keeps growing,” Eco says.

New frames by Eco include the Aspen, Atlas and Merano sunglasses.