NEUBAU EYEWEAR: green and nature-inspired

Author: Clodagh Norton

Feature Story
November 14, 2022

Daniel Liktor, Managing Director, NEUBAU

Since 2016, Austrian label NEUBAU has been part of the movement in eyewear to develop a more sustainable industry, with a greater focus on sustainable materials, eco-friendly production innovation and long-term commitment to and support of charities and projects 'for the good of nature'. Daniel Liktor, Managing Director, spoke to 20/20 Europe.

Q: NEUBAU was created with sustainability as its core value in 2016. Can you explain how that came about and how the story has evolved?

A: NEUBAU was created with the motivation of appealing to a younger audience with a different mindset when making buying decisions and choosing products. We noticed the shift towards a more sustainable lifestyle in a new generation, something the family Schmied of Silhouette International has lived for years. Therefore, we had the perfect sustainable foundation with our parent company Silhouette International, and so we started working on finding solutions to combine premium eyewear with environmentally friendly techniques and materials. Our first break-through was the usage of our plant-
based material naturalPX, which is made from 65% of castor oil beans. However, we thrived to incorporate sustainability in all areas of our brand. So, while exploring more plant-based and durable materials for our eyewear, we also gradually converted our accessories, by-products, packaging and marketing materials to sustainable alternatives. We started to reduce packaging and used recycled paper, disposed of most plastic wrapping and introduced cleaning cloths made from recycled PET bottles. Our thought process was always the same: we keep searching for a sustainable alternative while guaranteeing high quality and premium design.

T131 - Rupert by NEUBAU

Q: What is the brand releasing this year that further develops the eco-friendly story at NEUBAU?

A: Adding our plant-based material natural3D and high-quality beta-titanium to our product portfolio some years ago already gave us more flexibility in terms of design and colours. This year, we reached another great success that gives us even more freedom in our design process. In September, we are launching our newest sustainable material natural Acetate. Traditionally, acetate is the most common material used in the eyewear industry, but it contains harmful plasticizers. A fact that is not known by most consumers. With natural Acetate, we found a plant-based alternative that shows equally good quality properties but without the before mentioned plasticizers. And it is also biodegradable. It is the perfect addition to our product portfolio as the material offers a different colour range while also combining the characteristics NEUBAU is known for.

Q: In the design work at NEUBAU, is nature a direct influence and if so how?

A: When it comes to materials and production processes, we try to be as nature-focused and resource-efficient as possible – so this is an area where the environment plays the biggest role. When it comes to our design process, our design team find inspiration in all kinds of things which could be a natural element, culture, a vibrant city, or architecture. Our Bauhaus collection Walter&Wassily is a perfect example. The design was inspired by elements of the Bauhaus era but was made from our 100% plant-based and 3D-printed material natural3D. So, you can say, that nature always has the biggest influence, but when it comes to design, we believe in not limiting ourselves.

T134 - Alena by NEUBAU

Q: NEUBAU has been involved in a number of eco initiatives over the years such as The Honeybee Conservancy and the brand describes itself as “socially fair and ecologically responsible”. Please explain the details of these actions.

A: Next to our internal sustainable efforts, we always look for climate protection projects that we can support through sponsoring or through personal involvement. In 2018, we sponsored rooftop bee hives through the Honeybee Conservancy in New York City, which of course is an environment with limited green space. In 2020, we teamed up with the initiative Planet Patrol which organizes litter collection events in various cities. We not only got involved personally as a team, but also hosted a social media challenge in our community to collect litter in different cities. This year, we are investing in a special
climate project that supports the reforestation of tropical mixed forests in Costa Rica. In line with our core values, they combine ecological and socio-economic benefits for local communities and the environment by providing secure, long-term employment, as well as the conservation of native and endangered tree species.

\\ New campaign featuring the first collection at NEUBAU made from sustainable acetate - " SHAPES OF MOTION"

Q: You have also recently confirmed that NEUBAU is carbon neutral. Please can you give the evidence of this development – is this via your parent company SILHOUETTE?

A: All our eyewear is produced in the same production site as our parent company Silhouette International. Together, we inspected all areas of the production and systematically converted a wide range of processes to sustainable methods such as using only renewable energy, filtering emissions and wastewater, reducing electricity, but also producing locally following strict environmental laws. We are happy to have reached the official certification by the TÜV Austria as a carbon neutral production. But also here our constant motivation applies: for now, compensation payments for unavoidable emissions are a great support but our main focus is to completely reduce all harmful emissions by our own efforts in the near future.

T127 - Josi by NEUBAU

Q: Do you feel there is more to do in terms of becoming fully sustainable and respectful of nature?

A: There is always more potential. I mean, if we look at our personal lifestyle, there will always be more room to improve our sustainable lifestyle, but the constant motivation and efforts to achieve this goal is what counts. We don’t always have the perfect solution at first hand, but we do not give up until we find an alternative. A good example is our plastic wraps around our temples. They are necessary to protect the glasses in the delivery process. There is yet a way to find an alternative to those plastic wraps and we keep trying to find one. This is the great thing about NEUBAU: we see ourselves not only as a brand, but also as developers and inventors. Pioneers in sustainable avantgarde – which also is our main motto.

Q: Finally, what is your take on minimising waste? I understand you have had a green policy for using recycled plastic for cleaning cloths, can you give more details?

A: Minimizing waste is a process that really sets in motion when it comes to our by-products, packaging, and materials. In the last years, we already were successful in reducing waste by reducing packaging and switching to recycled materials; we got rid of most plastic and used recycled PET bottles for our cleaning clothes, while also leaving out the plastic wrappers. We really inspected all areas and changed as much as possible. In our eyewear production techniques, we found minimal waste methods. For our natural3D collections, we are using plant-based material that is processed with the help of 3D-printing technology. Since it is processed in the form of a powder, there is minimal to zero waste. Of course, there are also collections where some waste is unavoidable, but we are already working on a great solution to create something special out of that. 

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