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How we reframe waste

Why do we make our frames from plastic? Isn’t the world already drowning in plastic? Well, yes – and that’s kind of the point.

We don’t look at the ocean of plastic waste out there and think, “Let’s create some more!” We look at this gigantic problem and think, “There must be something we can do to make a difference.” To do something good for the environment and good for society. Even the smallest action – such as making recyclable glasses – can make a difference.

By treating plastic waste as a valuable resource, we want to be part of the solution to a daunting environmental challenge. Dresden’s regular frames are made from fully recyclable nylon, and we’re constantly experimenting with recycling discarded plastics.

We carefully consider every material that passes through our hands. Is it from a renewable source? What are the environmental consequences of the materials and manufacturing processes we choose? What’s the lifespan of our recyclable glasses and their byproducts? Can they be repurposed at the end of it? How do we minimise Dresden’s total footprint?

Every step we take in this direction is helping unclog our ecosystem of discarded plastic, and give those materials a new, smarter purpose.

The nuts and bolts of recyclable glasses

Dresdens are made from both new and waste plastics, or a combination of both. Our main range is made from a recyclable Swiss nylon called Nylon 12 (a type of plastic called Grilamid TR-90), in a ‘closed loop’, zero-waste system. This means we collect the production waste, cut up and feed it back into the moulding process.

This material is also the Rolls Royce of nylons: ultra-durable and beautifully lightweight.

We choose injection moulding as our manufacturing process so we can experiment with a huge range of durable plastics – both recyclable and recycled – and respond to interest in particular colours and materials.

Wood is recycled then turned into pellets. We mix it with nylon to make glasses frames.

Some of our glasses are rubbish (literally)

Our purpose isn’t simply to create a world where glasses-wearers can choose stylish, affordable glasses. It’s also to remake harmful waste products into beautiful, environmentally friendly products. Taking something that was thoughtlessly discarded and finding a new use for it.

For us, right now, that means recycling trash into fasionable eyewear. We began on this path when we learned many discarded plastics were thermoplastics, which can be melted and moulded into new products. As we kept investigating, a new frontier in frame making opened up.

So far, we’ve made limited-edition glasses from:

  • milk bottle tops from local cafes
  • marine debris collected from New South Wales beaches
  • waste plastics from customers/friends/passersby
  • recycled wood chips
  • beer keg caps used by Newtown brewers Young Henrys (giving new meaning to the phrase ‘beer goggles’!)
  • fishing nets discarded by trawlers and washed up on the beaches of Arnhem Land. The amazing durability that makes these ‘ghost nets’ so devastating to sea life makes this Nylon 6 ideal for us.

Our R&D is ongoing, and one of our big goals is to make our own polymer from recycled plastics. We can’t do it alone, so we’re leading a Cooperative Research Centre Partnership (CRC-P) with the University of New South Wales Smart Lab to develop this.

Glasses made from rubbish are going from a dream to reality, while helping clean up our environment. Sweet!

A new environmental reality

The bigger goal – the one we’re working towards every day – is a new environmental reality. An ecosystem free of the harmful, persistent plastics that society consumes like they’re going out of fashion (because actually, they are). An environmentally friendly society in which we cleverly re-use tough waste materials.

This challenge is so much bigger than any one of us that it can seem too daunting to begin, or impossible to make an impact. Our discarded-plastic glasses, and our everyday recyclable glasses, represent a simple, powerful idea: each of us can make a difference, one small step at a time. They help us see a better future more clearly (yep, we can’t resist an eyewear pun). What could be more precious than that?

Together we can achieve this audacious dream. We want to meet people who believe in a better, smarter future. We’d love to start recycling your old plastic and show you how to join us in reshaping the world’s trash.

If we can do that, while making some seriously cool eyewear in the process, we’re on the right path. And you never know, you might even find yourself a new favourite pair of specs for your trouble.