Ophthalmic business leaders prioritize sustainability initiatives, share achievements

September 16, 2022

3 min read


Christoforakis N, et. al. EYE2EYE Series: A panel discussion on sustainability. Presented at: Vision Expo West; Sept. 14-17, 2022; Las Vegas.

Christoforakis is vice president of environmental health and safety at EssilorLuxottica, Hsueh is senior director of U.S. brand marketing & digital strategy at CooperVision, Kimber is founder and CEO at Karün Eyewear, Novak is chief operating officer at RLab, Rogers is director of sales for Conant Lens Inc., and Saxon is executive director of professional strategy at Bausch + Lomb.

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LAS VEGAS — Business leaders in the eye care community came together at Vision Expo West to discuss their companies’ efforts to increase sustainability and environmental health through business practices.

The panel consisted of representatives from Bausch + Lomb, CooperVision, Conant Lens Inc., EssilorLuxottica, Karün Eyewear and RLab, who covered topics ranging from each company’s efforts to create a sustainable future and plans to convey the importance of these efforts to consumers.

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“Companies may define sustainability in different ways,” Nia Christoforakis, vice president of environmental health and safety at EssilorLuxottica, said. “At EssilorLuxottica, in addition to environmental, we see social responsibility as a key component of being a sustainable company.”

According to Christoforakis, EssilorLuxottica achieved carbon neutrality in the company’s home countries of France and Italy, with 75% and 95% of each respective country’s manufacturing site’s electricity coming from renewable energy. The company has also incorporated bio-based materials into the raw material portfolio across all product types, she said.

Alice Hsueh, senior director of U.S. brand marketing & digital strategy at CooperVision, discussed the four major pillars of the company’s environmental initiative, which include saving water; conserving energy; reusing, reducing and recycling resources; and empowering people in the CooperVision community.

“Our operations manufacturer sites in New York, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico are believed to be the only LEED certified contact lens plants in the world, which required innovative thinking and implementations,” she said.

According to Hsueh, CooperVision’s Rochester, New York, site has achieved 100% operation through renewable energy, thanks to high-energy lighting provided by natural light, power transformers that use vegetable oils and natural rain sources. In addition, CooperVision’s MyDay and clarity 1 day contact lenses are considered net plastic neutral.

The company has also set a goal of reducing the equivalent of 100 million water bottles in plastic by the end of 2022, Hsueh said.

Bausch + Lomb’s ONE by ONE campaign has allowed for more than 48 million units of contact lens, eye care and lens care materials from contact lens manufacturers around the world to be recycled, “because our role is not just to make a difference for Bausch + Lomb and the doctors and patients that we help, but to help doctors and patients worldwide,” Jill Saxon, OD, FAAO, executive director of professional strategy at Bausch + Lomb, said. “It’s everything from supply chain and manufacturing and development all the way down to the local level.”

Bausch + Lomb’s manufacturing facility in Rochester runs on 3,667 solar panels, which decreases the company’s carbon footprint by 800 tons of carbon dioxide a year, she said.

“My passion may be aspirational, but it really is to change the world, and I think we’re in the presence of folks who really do believe we can leave this world a better place,” Saxon said.

Conant Lens Inc. recently launched its 1.74 CoVisionSeries of spectacle lenses with the DoGreen plant-based monomer, which is made with a palm oil additive, according to Ryan Rogers, the company’s director of sales. “We’re not the only company that’s using that monomer, but we are one of the ones that promoted heavily,” he said.

When asked about the roles eye care providers should play in conveying information about socially conscious developments and improvements to consumers and patients, Greg Novak, chief operating officer at RLab, said that business owners “have a responsibility to get past the [eye care providers (ECPs)], create the message in the consumer’s mind and drive the demand with the ECPs, not the other way around.”

The panelists also discussed the importance of companies working together to move toward a more sustainable and cleaner future, without “trying to take it for ourselves,” Thomas Kimber, founder and CEO at Karün Eyewear, said.

“I think what we need is to build a table where the different actors of the industry — representatives of the ECPs, of the labs, of the different manufacturers — come together and agree on how we are going to be measuring the goals that we as an industry have toward sustainable development in the world,” Kimber said. “We have the people who are most likely going to be making decisions here, so let’s make it happen.”

Anthony DeFino

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