Interview with Karin van Braam, CBO, about circular eyewear at nexeye
Nexeye is introducing Ciircle today, a new brand of eyewear with frames made from old glasses and residual waste from new frame production. The collection adds to the group’s ambition of becoming more sustainable, step by step. We are talking to Karin van Braam, CBO, about nexeye’s sustainability strategy in connection with the launch of Ciircle at Hans Anders, Direkt Optik and eyes + more.
Why is sustainability important to nexeye?
Karin van Braam: “Nexeye wants good eye and hearing care to be accessible for the next generations too. Sustainability of the production process plays a major role in this, besides the quality and affordability of our products. As a group, we are keen to help in making sure the world and society stay liveable. Not just because our customers expect it from us, but mainly because we genuinely believe that we can.
It is also my personal belief that it is important to take action when it comes to sustainability. When we visit the factories that make our products, we see an upward trend in our suppliers wanting to make the production process cleaner and more sustainable. Each visit shows more steps being taken. This is a huge motivator for me to keep up the dialogue and continue to search for more sustainable solutions together. And rightly so, because some visits also confront us with things that really could be done better, such as residual waste resulting from production. I see these visits as opportunities because this is high-quality material that can still be used just fine. If we manage to take full advantage of these opportunities, we demonstrate that it is unnecessary to keep using new raw materials for our products.”
Is this how the Ciircle eyewear brand came about?
“Indeed. We started from the standpoint that glasses made from reused materials are even more beautiful, and entered into dialogue with a supplier who uses residual waste and old frames to produce new acetate frames. Together, we developed the Ciircle brand and the collection.
We think it’s interesting to see how our customers react to our collection. What’s more, it teaches us how used glasses are taken apart, how it is made into granulate and then turned into a brand new frame. It gives us an understanding of the process and that’s very valuable to us too.”
What are nexeye’s next steps for sustainability and circularity?
“There is still plenty to do. In the future, we want to supply the materials for reuse ourselves – so to make new glasses out of our customers’ used glasses. This is complex because you want to keep the colour as pure as possible, for example. What’s more, if a frame is reused, it must be completely taken apart: even the smallest screws have to be removed. This is a time-consuming process and therefore expensive. A challenge if you want to keep eyewear affordable, but it should be achievable.
Our dream is to eventually make our entire range sustainable. That’s not something you can fully achieve overnight for more than 700 stores and millions of customers. But luckily, we are seeing lots of sustainable innovation along the chain. There is more and more focus on renewed acetate, a mix of new and reused. This will certainly elevate the reuse segment. And there is lots of progress in the field of injection, where melted plastic is injected into a mould to eventually end up with an amazing pair of glasses. This process produces less residual waste than the traditional production process, where a frame is cut from a sheet of plastic. This was still in its infancy just a few years ago and didn’t yield the most beautiful items, but now several manufacturers have embraced this production method. We too are increasingly offering these types of glasses in our shops, together with our (branded) suppliers. There are plenty of opportunities and possibilities for us as a group to create value for the future. That’s what we are aiming for.”
The complete Ciircle collection – consisting of 23 unisex frames made from recycled material – is available from today at all Hans Anders and Direkt Optik stores, in 20 eyes + more stores and from the optician chains’ websites.