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FILE: Refurbished: in optics too?

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Faced with the main concerns of our modern society, namely purchasing power and ecology, purchasing habits are transforming. Commerce is being disrupted by new methods seeking to offer both attractive prices and sustainability. The reconditioned market has largely invaded digital and offers offers at attractive prices. What about the optics in all this? After all, millions of frames are destined to be transformed, recycled, or distributed each year. So, can reconditioned optics work?

Refurbished: what are the differences with second-hand goods?

What does reconditioned mean? Is it the same as second hand. The answer is simple: yes, reconditioned is second-hand but no, second-hand is not necessarily reconditioned. Refurbished consists of offering a second life to an object. It is also not recycling, where the object is then transformed. Reconditioning does not change its function. The item is repaired and put back on the market. It's a system that has been working for several years now in the digital sector: computers or smartphones whose battery or screen requires repair or replacement are repaired and then resold at an unbeatable price.
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The advantage of reconditioned is that the repairs are carried out by professional technicians and that in addition, the objects are subject to the compulsory guarantee for second-hand sales. More reassuring than a classic second hand between individuals!

But what does optics have to do with all this? Well, the manufacturing of frames being subject to the vagaries of time, parts can fail and require replacement. However, eyeglass owners regularly change frames. As a result, thousands, even millions of frames end up off the market even though their condition is not that bad. Second-hand sales, recycling , donations to humanitarian organizations manage part of it. Why not reconditioned?

For some time now, the optical market has been trying to gradually grasp this way of bringing old frames back to life. Consequently, this induces particular rules.

A regulatory framework under study

The French Standardization Association (AFNOR) is currently working with public authorities to implement a draft standard relating to the refurbishment of medical devices. This mainly concerns medical prostheses. But this project could also concern and become law for optical frames.

This draft standard indicates that “putting a medical device back into proper use makes it possible to restore the function of the device and to extend its useful life by carrying out upkeep and maintenance operations, without altering its performance, technical and functional characteristics, particularly in terms of hygiene and safety. The objective is to 'ensure a reduction in the environmental impact observed but also to allow the patients concerned to have wider access to these restored materials in all the required health safety conditions.'

We are well within the very definition of reconditioned. The product must offer service equivalent to that of new, with corresponding after-sales service. This standard must also address the issue of product traceability. When should this start? Optical professionals, through the national union of mutual optical centers (SYNOM), consider that traceability should start upon arrival at the sorting center. Indeed, when collecting frames, it is not always easy to trace them because elements (brand, model, serial number, etc.) may be missing. Starting upon their arrival at an approved sorting center would allow the majority of these frames to be used.

It should be noted that at present, around 50% of the frames used are reconditionable. The other half is returned to more “traditional” paths on the second-hand market, or through recycling or donation.

Whatever the case, SYNOM insists so that professionals in the optical sector can take charge, together, of the rules and standards which will surround, in the near future, the sale of reconditioned optical frames. Because yes, there already exist this type of frames on the market.

Already sales in store

Several companies, notably start-ups, have positioned themselves on the reconditioned market. This is the case with Lunettes de Zac , an optician in Lille, who specializes in refurbishing frames. The principle is simple: partner opticians have a small box to allow everyone to place their unused frames. The glasses are then collected to be reconditioned. Through this approach, the company is also developing an important social approach since it works with the AlterEos association, which works to provide sustainable employment to people with disabilities.

You You can become a partner optician of Zac's glasses by going directly to the dedicated page on their website. In France, several independent stores have already made this choice, but also certain franchisees of opticians Ecouter Voir . Since May 2023, eleven Ecouter Voir stores have worked with Zac glasses, and from September, all brands should do so.

For the moment, we do not have figures on sales of reconditioned frames, but there is no doubt that the matter risks being heard and subject to significant development.

An almost certain future for reconditioned products?

With the risk of seeing certain reimbursements decrease, coupled with lenses whose prices increase with technological advances, the purchase of second-hand frames is likely to skyrocket. The big advantage of reconditioned is of course the support and repair by professional technicians, but also the assurance of a guarantee and traceability.

[ =]If the law and standards should logically govern this new market, we can consider that we will have to take a careful look at it. As a bonus, it would be a way for opticians to open up new sales prospects, which makes it possible to reach other targets, with some people now swearing only by the opportunity. A way also to develop a new way of working for a profession which, sometimes, suffers from stagnation.

Whatever happens, reconditioned products have a bright future ahead of them![ =]

Sources: Acuité.fr , Challenges , Listen to View, Zac’s Glasses