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HomeminewsSeeding Sustainable Solutions to Contact Lens Production

Seeding Sustainable Solutions to Contact Lens Production

At a time when environmental conservation is top of mind, SEED Kounosu Research Institute in Japan, manufacturer of SEED Pure Series contact lenses, is doing all it can to reduce its footprint on the planet.

SEED’s blister packaging.

By employing eco-friendly technology and equipment, SEED’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Masahiro Urakabe, says SEED is maximising energy efficiency, reusing wastewater to reduce water consumption and recycling plastics.

“A photovoltaic power generation system installed on the rooves of our manufacturing facility is facilitating the efficient use of resources through the utilisation of clean energy and the heat-shielding effects of the solar panels themselves,” explained Mr Urakabe.

Installed solar panels absorb heat that would otherwise be passed on to the roof of a building and provide further cooling due to the convection current that occurs between the panels and the roof. Using thermal imaging, researchers at the University of California San Diego found that panels could reduce the surface temperature of a roof by up to 38%. Furthermore, at night, the panels help retain heat, reducing energy use in the winter.

The additional installation of state-of-the-art photovoltaic power generation systems on the rooftop of the research facility at the SEED Kounosu Research Institute and Fukuro no Mori, a preschool and childcare facility, has significantly reduced SEED’s CO2 emissions, as Mr Urakabe explained.

“By increasing the proportion of renewable energy used by these facilities, and through the heat-insulating effect of solar panels, SEED’s total emission was 21,092 tons of CO2 in the Japanese fiscal year ended March 2021.”

SEED’s Kounosu Research Centre.

As well as producing its own energy, SEED has taken steps to ensure the efficient use of energy, developing a control system that monitors the status of use of every kind of energy, from electricity, gas and water supply, through to compressed air and high-pressure steam. In doing so, they’re able to take steps to eliminate energy wastage.

“These measures led us to easily surpass the annual target for reducing CO2 emissions requested of SEED by the prefectural government of Saitama. In the previous Japanese fiscal year ended March 2020, SEED surpassed the reduction target by 36,000 tons, which was converted into emission credits, with credits equivalent to 10,000 tons transferred to Saitama prefecture.”

RECYCLING INITIATIVES

Recycling is also integral to SEED’s approach to minimising its environmental impact. “Manufacturing contact lenses involves the use of a large amount of pure water, so we have developed a system that recycles wastewater and refines it into pure water for use in our manufacturing process,” Mr Urakabe explained.

“We also recycle plastic waste from the manufacturing process.”

SEED chooses optimal ways to reuse plastic waste, both in and outside the factory, according to the type and degree of its purity. Specifically in Japan, the Blue Seed Project is SEED’s recycling activity to collect plastic blisters (empty cases) of contact lenses passed into the hands of general consumers for recycling.

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Mr Urakabe said SEED’s approach to minimising its environmental impact has been well received by customers, staff and the general public.

“As part of our commitment to being a good corporate citizen, we are always striving to harmonise with the environment, society and community. This is an ongoing effort, and we will continue to invest in technologies to reduce SEED’s environmental footprint as part of our corporate social responsibility,” he concluded.

Reference 

Dominguez, Anthony & Kleissl, Jan & Luvall, Jeffrey. (2011). Effects of solar photovoltaic panels on roof heat transfer. Solar Energy – Solar Energ. 85. 2244-2255. 10.1016/j. solener.2011.06.010. 

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