Who knew sunglasses could be biodegradable?! Pela Vision sunglass frames are 100% biodegradable, with even the lenses being able to break down! Not only are these sunglasses biodegradable, but they’re also fashionable, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice style with this sustainable product. Additionally, the lenses can be swapped out for prescription lenses very easily, meaning vision impaired consumers can still enjoy this product. The sunglasses are durable and provide full UVA/UVB protection. These Bonito Eco Friendly Sunglasses in Lavender retail for $54.95, which is not the cheapest sunglasses out there, but also definitely not the most expensive. After my current pair of sunglasses break, I’m planing on getting myself a pair of these to test them out. Pela as a brand has many sustainable initiatives, but it lacks transparency with it’s employees rights and working conditions, preventing this product from receiving a full 3/3 planets. Overall I would rate this product as 2 planets.
Pela sunglasses are made of a fully biodegradable bioplastic created by Pela called Vision V2. Although they cannot be composted, Pela sunglasses can biodegrade in a landfill. Unfortunately Pela does not include what raw materials are used to create this bioplastic, and does not include where these materials are sourced from. I understand that companies want to protect what sets them apart from others, but it would be nice to know that the materials being used to create Pela products are sourced sustainably and ethically. Not only are these sunglasses fully biodegradable, but they also can be sent back to the Pela 360 upcycling program. You can additionally donate your old sunglasses to be upcycled as well. This program is part of their “closed loop” ideology, which eliminated the thousand year process that traditional plastic frames would need to break down. However, when looking at the Pela 360 website, there are only options to send in their phone cases, not their sunglasses. This may be because their vision line is much newer, and I’m sure if you reached out to Pela with their contact us information they could provide some more information on how to upcycle their sunglasses. Pela has gotten rid of metal hinges, eliminating all metal used in addition to plastic. The packaging for Pela products comes in 100% recycled paper, eliminating plastic in the shipping process as well.
Pela has many sustainable practices in their manufacturing process. Pela’s website includes a link to very detailed reports on their products' life cycle assessment for 2021, which I was very pleased to see. The report includes all information regarding the companies sustainability, including emissions, waste, and production flow. Pela measures their direct and indirect carbon emissions, and lists how many tons of CO2 is produced by different scopes, both direct and indirect, of their company. Compared to traditional plastic manufacturing, Pela produces 30% less carbon emissions, uses 34% less water, and creates 80% less waste. Pela also offsets this carbon footprint by buying carbon offsets that are Climate Neutral Certified. Taking sustainability another step forward, Pela donates a percentage of every sale to Ocean Cleanup and Preservation Initiatives. The products ship out of the US, however Pela has a goal to add distribution centers in Canada and Europe to eventually reduce transportation needs. Unfortunately Pela does not indicate what transportation methods they use, but instead list the emissions produced from transportation. Pela additionally has a goal of shifting the manufacturing facilities to renewable energy sources to reduce their carbon footprint further. The production flow of Pela Vision sunglasses is also included in their life cycle assessment report in the form of a flow chart. The chart indicates that Pela Vision raw materials are assembled in China, are transported to manufacturing in China, and then are transported to the US for distribution. It was disappointing to find out that Pela products are made in China with very little information on working conditions. This makes me think that Pela is not focusing on the ethical side of sustainability by not ensuring workers rights and safe factory conditions. It really seems like Pela is taking many steps in the right direction when it comes to sustainability. When looking into third-party sources, many people have reviewed Pela and loved their products and their sustainability efforts, yet indicate a lack of transparency in regards to ethical employment and production practices. In terms of ethics, it seems like they have a ways to go. To get a better planet rating, I recommend Pela include more transparency on their workers conditions and rights.
Pela originally started out as a biodegradable phone case company, but has recently expanded their company to make biodegradable sunglasses. Pela’s goal is to create a waste free future. The founder Jeremy Lang decided to start the company in 2008 while on vacation when his son dug up a bunch of plastic while playing in the sand. Lang states that he wants to protect the future home of his children and the generations to come. On the Pela website they have a list of values called the “four Cs:'' community, creativity, consciousness, and courage. Pela is dedicated to making sure everything they do is good for the individuals in the company, the teams, the business, for the community, and ultimately for the planet. This is a very inspiring message, yet there isn’t much additional information on how they are ensuring this at every level, or what “doing good” actually means. As a consumer I would love to see more transparency when it comes to ensuring employees rights and making ethical business choices.