By David Goldberg

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on our health care system and economy.

It’s also impacted our mission to protect the environment and cut down on plastic pollution.

According to a government study, Canadians produced nearly three-million tonnes of plastic waste in 2016.

Now, think about the millions of masks, gloves and hand sanitizer bottles being pitched into landfills this year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As humanity faces this health crisis, it is turning a blind eye to another equally pressing matter, the destruction of our oceans.

Optimistically, many players in the eyecare industry are owning the call to action and taking bold steps to reduce plastic waste today and in the future.


WestGroupeThe branded frame case from WestGroupe’s OTP collection is constructed from regenerated materials, natural rubber and water-based glues.

Marketing director Shaleen Ratansi gave us a sneak peak at the 2020 October collection with a closer look at the upcoming OTP-116 frames.

“This style is an oversized square shape, handcrafted from biodegradable cotton-based acetate,” she says. 

“The certified biodegradable cellulose acetate is free from wastes that are harmful to the planet.”

The OTP-116 is available in black tortoise, red and olive. 

Rantansi also says that WestGroupe is always looking for ways to reduce its carbon footprint from the early stages of manufacturing to the showroom. 

“Our polybags, temple sleeves and demo lenses are made with a revolutionary 100 per cent biodegradable polymer. This material is tailored to naturally decompose in landfills, leaving behind carbon, H20 and organic matter. The biodegradable lenses will start to biodegrade within 10 days of reaching the landfill, enriching the soil upon decomposition.”



Zeal launched its new Sea Grass collection of eco-friendly frames over the summer with the debut of the Aspen, available in black grain, midnight, pine and smolder.

The glasses are made from ‘true grasses,’ which are agricultural waste fibers that include hemp, flax, rice and straw. Those are combined with post-consumer recycled plastics to reuse waste material and keep it out of landfills.

“All of Zeal’s sunglasses are made from plant-based materials to reduce our footprint,” says Jeff Speiran, managing director at Zeal Optics. 

“Additionally, the lenses are made from castor oil-based resins. These are our most environmentally friendly sunglasses to date.”



From Ogi, the Scojo collection has three New York styles made from recycled acetate. 

Ebony Court is a bold and robust build with thick, striking frames available in onyx. 

Newel Sun is another environmentally conscious look with a soft square shape and sleek silhouette.

And Mortimer Sun is similar to the Newel, but offers a slightly more rounded frame. 

Both models are available in onyx.

Ogi’s eyewear team says the company is ramping all efforts to go green. 

“Just this last year we switched our frame bags and temple sleeves to a biodegradable plastic and no longer use a backing card with our frames. We also discontinued the use of excess acetate on POP logo blocks, jewelry, PD rulers and other accessories.” 



Smith is also turning old plastic water bottles into your next favourite pair of high-performance shades.

The Lowdown 2 CORE is available in matte black frames with polarized lenses.

Graham Sours, Smith’s product category director, says while it’s still Smith’s top-selling frame, it’s now enhanced with new, sustainable manufacturing methods. 

“Each Lowdown 2 CORE frame is made entirely from five recycled plastic bottles aside from the stainless steel barrel hinges,” explains Sours.

The lenses are also made from Smith’s environmentally friendly castor oil-based Evolve material.

Another small detail with Mother Nature in mind is there’s no adhesives used to affix the logo. Smith chose to go with an embossed emblem instead. Additionally, each pair comes with a microfibre bag also made from recycled plastic bottles and boxed in 100 per cent recycled packaging.

“The CORE Collection embodies Smith’s responsibility to its community to deliver products that enable the brand to make consistent and measurable steps forward to reducing its environmental impact, while helping promote and support the causes that affect the entirety of the outdoor and active communities as a whole,” says Sours. 



Marchon’s commitment to the environment comes in the form of the Dragon Upcycled collection.

The frames are made from recycled water bottles.

Director of marketing Kin Kusaian breaks down the process: “The fabrication process begins with five plastic bottles being manually separated and selected. Next, the recycled waste is washed thoroughly and cut into chips. The chips are pressed into small pellets then melted down and injected into a frame.”

The DR9000 frames come in sunglasses and optical frames and are available in matte hues, including grey, black and navy. 

“We are very excited to bring this product to market and are seeing a great response from our consumers,” says Kaisian. “We have also incorporated this technology into a collection for Lacoste.”

The Eco Sunglasses are available in a number of matte finishes including black, white, blue and green. 

Marchon has also launched a capsule product for Salvatore Ferragamo with bio-based content, making use of natural renewable resources.

The Italian-inspired line includes glasses and sunglasses in a variety of shapes and styles, all designed to offer a timeless look. 

It includes the SF2199L-COLOR-072, SF2863-COLOR-001, SF224S-COLOR-726, and SF229SL-COLOR-718.


Etnia Barcelona

“Etnia Barcelona elaborates all its frame collections with high-quality natural materials such as cotton, wood and mineral glass,” explains the Etnia Barcelona team.

“We work with natural Mazzuchelli acetate, which is a malleable material made of 70 per cent cotton and wood, which ensures maximum comfort. Additionally, Etnia Barcelona works with Barberini mineral glass for its lenses and innovative treatments.”

In spring of this year, Etnia Barcelona added six new eyewear models to its nature-inspired SS20 collection. 

“It’s an ode to the floral displays of the earliest French private gardens, such as that of the fabulous Palace of Versailles.”

They include Daisy, Lilly, Orchid, Peony, Rose and Lavender.

Over-the-top and colourful frames reflect carefully-pruned vegetation. Ultra-thin laminations and transparent colours imitate light and water passing through flower petals.

Etnia Barcelona’s packaging is made of 100 per cent recyclable cardboard and the cases are made of natural materials.