Net Zero Optics releases new certification standards

The programme now includes eight certification standards as part of a journey to support practices and suppliers towards net zero

A muddy cupped hand holds a bright green saplin
Pexels/Akil Mazumder
A new suite of carbon certification standards has been launched through Practice Building’s Net Zero Optics programme.

The programme was first launched in March 2023 with three certifications to support optical businesses reduce their carbon footprint and plastic waste on a journey to becoming net zero certified.

Following a review process, programme organisers have released the new carbon certification standards including five new certifications.

In an announcement, organisers shared: “While there were few direct changes to our existing standards, this review process has certainly added a lot to our certification suite, which now totals eight distinct certification standards and which, together, provide the structure of a solid journey towards net zero carbon emissions for optical businesses.”

The new certification standards are divided into subsets for practices and suppliers.

Businesses can address the certifications in any order, though the programme certifications provide a progression through taking action, as standards become progressively more complex and all-encompassing.

Practices can undertake certifications including: Net Zero Commitment, Carbon Neutral Eyewear, Carbon Neutral Audiology, Powered by Renewables, and Net Zero Carbon.

Suppliers can address the certifications of: Net Zero Commitment, Powered by Renewables, Carbon Neutral Event, Carbon Neutral National Operations, Net Zero Carbon.

Practices and suppliers can also take action on plastic through the certifications for Optical Recycling Centre and Net Zero Plastic.

“The optical industry can be up there leading the charge”

Andrew Clark, founder of Net Zero Eyecare, spoke to OT about the certifications.

Clark explained that the global standards for Carbon Accounting, as set out by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol are “imperative” to help achieve global net zero emissions targets by 2050, “but across the world uptake is not what it needs to be.”

Net Zero Eyecare has looked at ways that these protocols can be tailored to the optical industry, creating certification milestones for the journey. The process also includes accounting for the carbon footprint of patient travel.

“We’ve not only taken globally renowned standards and made them accessible for the optical industry, we’re helping practices go above and beyond that global standard remarkably easily,” Clark told OT.

The revision of the Net Zero Eyecare Carbon Standards was open to public feedback, along with experts from the optical industry, and finalised by Net Zero Eyecare’s steering group.

“These suites of standards – for practices and for suppliers – provide the sector with the foundations of a journey ‘from zero to Net Zero,’” Clark said. He explained: “From zero climate action, just starting out, through to being fully on top of a business’ carbon accounting, and neutralising all unavoidable emissions rapidly and effectively.”

“These standards, provided by Net Zero Eyecare, give the industry a clear banner to rally around,” he shared.

Claims of carbon neutrality don’t always follow the same methodology, Clark explained, while the aim of these certifications has been to provide “robust, clear, and universal targets.”

“That way, everyone knows they’re doing their bit, just like everyone else,” he added.

Reflecting on the release of the updated programme of certifications, Clark shared: “I’m delighted to have extended the suite in a way that has heard and responded to the concerns of our industry. It’s equally important that we encourage action while recognising the challenges faced by even the most enthusiastic businesses.”

Clark commented: “I hope that it allows more businesses to start carbon accounting and start taking meaningful climate action at this critical time; these next few years will be the most critical in human history, and the optical industry can be up there leading the charge.”