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16 Jan 2019

First contact lens recycling scheme launched in the UK

Recycle your old contact lenses for free

Contact lens wearers in the UK will now be able to recycle their old lenses and packaging for free, either via public-drop off bins or a postal collection service.

The new scheme, launched this week, aims to reduce plastic waste in landfill and waterways by making it easy to dispose of old contact lenses and packaging.

Roughly 20% of the UK's 3.7 million contact lens wearers admitted to flushing their lenses down the toilet or in the sink, according to research done by Johnson & Johnson Vision, the company behind the initiative.

The research also found that 77% of contact lens wearers said they would recycle them if they could.

The new Acuvue scheme, in partnership with Terracycle, Boots Opticians and a range of independent Opticians stores, is available to all contact lens wearers, regardless of what brand they use.

Best places to buy glasses and contact lenses- see how customers rated the big brands vs independents

How to recycle your contact lenses

You can dispose of your contact lens waste at public recycling bins which will be installed in Boots Opticians across the UK, plus a selection of independent opticians.

In time, it's hoped the network will include more than 1,000 drop-off points.

If you don't fancy storing all your contact lens packaging and trekking to a store, you can also arrange a home collection by downloading a shipping label on the Acuvue or Terracycle websites, and booking a courier pick-up for your package, free of charge.

The recycling scheme is open to all brands of soft contact lens and will accept the following:

  • disposable contact lenses
  • Lens blister packs and blister foil packaging

Where to buy contact lenses

We asked hundreds of Which? members who wear contact lenses to tell us about their experience of buying them and how they rated the lenses they bought.

Our survey revealed that independent optician stores rate highest with contact lens wearers, above big brands Boots, Specsavers and Vision Express, achieving the full five stars for customer service.

How did the high-street chains fare? Compare the big brands side-by-side in our glasses buying guide.

Buying contact lenses online

By law, online vendors must verify your prescription before selling contact lenses, and sales must be done under the direction of a registered practitioner, so check the site you're using is legitimate.

Keep in mind that though buying online can be cheaper, it isn't always the discount it seems - you need to factor-in shipping, handling and insurance costs as well.

Make sure you have an up-to-date prescription first too - see our guide to the best places to have an eye testfor the top-rated stores.