LEADING OFF: CooperVision Hosts a Sustainability ‘Experience’

CooperVision recently hosted “the clariti 1 day experience” at the company’s contact lens manufacturing facility in Alajuela, Costa Rica. The event offered eye care professionals the opportunity to tour the high-volume facility, which produces clariti 1 day lenses, and to learn more about CooperVision’s sustainability practices.

“We set out to share with attendees not just the sophisticated technology it takes to make a contact lens, but to also showcase the importance of sustainability to the manufacturing process, to CooperVision as a company and its employees,” says Inga Grote-Ebbs, director of marketing at CooperVision. “We are extremely passionate about both.”

During the tour, attendees viewed each of the steps involved in the production of clariti 1 day lenses, such as how the molds are made. Opened in 2016, the 100,000-square-foot facility was recently awarded LEED Silver certification for environmentally conscious design. Additionally, the company has plans for a second phase of expansion, which will include an additional 100,000 square feet of space, scheduled to be completed by 2023. The facility’s location, in the Coyol Free Trade Zone, has numerous advantages, including tax and financial incentives, an educated workforce, limited cultural barriers and proximity to both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, as well as the San Jose Airport, Site Director Eligio Santiago explains.

The Alajuela plant’s sustainability efforts include such practices as conserving energy and water, transportation, expanding LED illumination and recovering organic waste for composting. On average, the plant recycles more than 95% of the materials used during the production process, according to CooperVision.

Pamela Jackson, senior director of digital marketing & communications, and Matt Berner, the company’s first director for corporate responsibility, presented on sustainability efforts that span across The Cooper Companies. Ms. Jackson says the company continually strives to improve its sustainability practices: “If it is good for the planet, it is good for business.” And Mr. Berner presented on the company’s approach to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Cooper Companies will prioritize three of the U.N.’s 17 SDGs: Good Health and Well-being; Responsible Consumption and Production; and Partnerships to achieve the Goal. (For a full list of SDGs, see .)

In addition to discussing sustainability, Ms. Grote-Ebbs and Jennifer Palombi, O.D., senior manager, professional and scientific communication at CooperVision, presented on contact lens trends, insights into the daily disposable market and the benefits of clariti 1 day. In addition, Steve Diamanti, Ph.D., senior manager, technical marketing at CooperVision, provided insights into the material technology and design of the clariti 1 day lens.

Attendees said they benefited from the unique perspective that the event provided. Katie Grenier, O.D., Kent, Ohio, says she was “thoroughly impressed.”

“I learned so much from the trip about the importance of reuse and recycle in Costa Rica,” she says. “From rain water basins to solar energy, there was extreme thought put into every step of manufacturing and office space there,” she says.

Michael Cymbor, O.D., State College, Pa., says: “Seeing the commitment to sustainability from both CooperVision and Costa Rica inspired me to return to my practice with a renewed emphasis on sustainability.”

For example, Dr. Cymbor formed a sustainability panel at his practice, Nittany Eye Associates. The panel will address recycling, alternatives to plastics, solar energy and composting options, as well as discuss plans for Earth Day 2020. OM

CooperVision representatives and their guests shown outside the company’s Alajuela, Costa Rica, manufacturing facility.

Inga Grote-Ebbs, director of marketing at CooperVision

Eligio Santiago, site director, CooperVision Alajuela plant

Steve Diamanti, Ph.D., senior manager, technical marketing at CooperVision

Jennifer Palombi, O.D., senior manager, professional and scientific communication at CooperVision

Attendees were able to view the entire manufacturing process.