SABIC, a global supplier of chemicals based in Saudi Arabia, and Xiamen Hongtai Optical, the Chinese lens manufacturer better known under its POLYRAY brand name, announced last week their collaboration for the launch of a new sustainable material.

Under the agreement, POLYRAY is launching its new BioPC lens range for sunglasses, safety glasses and sports goggles, integrating the LEXAN polycarbonate (PC) resin by SABIC. POLYRAY’s BioPC lenses are produced in a more sustainable way compared to standard PC lenses, by replacing part of the fossil-based feedstock with LEXAN’s bio-based feedstock derived from forestry residue, using the mass balance principle. The use of LEXAN is said to result in potential reductions of 61 percent in carbon footprint and 35 percent in fossil depletion.

The LEXAN material, the finished products by POLYRAY integrating it, as well as Xiamen Hongtai Optical’s factory have all been certified by ISCC, an international certification company specializing in sustainability issues. According to both partners, POLYRAY is the first company offering a renewable PC lens to eyewear manufacturers and also the first one to integrate the new LEXAN material in its product.

POLYRAY had already started offering bio-based alternatives in its portfolio in 2019, with its bio-ray lens based on nylon material integrating 43 percent of castor oil and certified by the USDA BioPreferred program, as well as eco-friendly coating materials. The company will roll-out the new BioPC lens, which is said to offer the same product specifications as a fossil-based PC lens in terms of resistance or optical clarity, across its portfolio of sunglasses lenses, demo lenses and other applications such as polarized, photochromic or anti-blue light lenses.

Fashion, both for licensed and designer eyewear brands, and sport sunglasses brands represent most of POLYRAY’s business but the company is also active in the safety and military sectors, and recently entered the market of e-sport eyewear. According to a company official, the annual production volume represents about 10 million pair of lenses for annual revenues of about $30 million.