Sustainability Beyond the Small Things at ESCRS 2022

We’ve only got one planet, and companies like Rayner are showing their commitment to it in ways big and small

The planet is sounding the alarm, and exhibitors in Exhibition Hall 4 at the 40th Congress of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS 2022) showed just how the eye care industry is answering the call.

As we highlighted in our recent run of sustainability-themed issues, ophthalmology and optometry are beginning to wake up to the reality of industry waste. This has been accompanied by a wave of innovative tech sweeping through everything from contact lens packaging to raw material sourcing. 

This commitment is also codified into the Congress itself, with ESCRS President Prof. Dr. Oliver Findl setting a target of 2023 to make the yearly meeting completely carbon-neutral with zero waste to landfills. Throughout ESCRS 2022 weekend in Milan, Italy, this theme echoed off the walls of the Exhibition Hall in a variety of ways – and none more saliently than with booth design. 

An Oasis in the Chaos

One of the most eye-catching booths in Exhibition Hall 4 at the Milan Convention Center (MiCo) was the booth by Rayner Surgical Group Limited (London, United Kingdom), an earth-toned oasis amidst the ever-present din of deal-making, networking and product demos in the Hall. 

In sharp contrast to the surrounding company booths shouting slogans and announcing new products in loud reds, greens and oranges, Rayner opted for a relatively minimalist eco-chic design. And this nod to the planet’s beauty is more than just superficial. 

Nifty environmentally-conscious touches were everywhere. A revolving door of doctors and attendees chatted amidst the sustainably-sourced wood flooring and a delightful array of plant life which would be bundled up and reused at the firm’s next stop. Stacks of brochures and advertisements were replaced by strategically-positioned QR codes; Rayner employees shuffled around tapping slick electronic business cards to phones instead of exchanging paper versions. 

“We just wanted to create a space that facilitated quality conversations between healthcare practitioners,” said Rayner Marketing Vice President Chris Willis in a brief chat. “ A big open space… plenty of space to talk, and organic building materials. That’s it. We’re really trying to make people feel relaxed, at ease, and at home”.  

In other words, Rayner’s physical presence at least exuded a concerted effort to place the company at the nexus of the meeting and into the ranks of the eco-conscious. And judging by the sheer volume of people chatting and passing through, Rayner’s design concept was a smashing success.

Not Just for Show

A fancy eco-booth is one thing, but the company’s pledge to the planet goes well beyond mere lip service. Rayner as a company is committed towards reducing the significant footprint of the ophthalmic industry, and their booth is just the beginning. E-stationery and fancy flooring are a start, but Rayner has their eye on initiatives with real impact. 

One such move was the acquisition of a stake in and partnership with Belgian sustainable surgical instrument manufacturer Hasa Optix (Bruxelles, Belgium). The instruments are single-use and recyclable, giving surgeons all the luxuries of disposable instruments without the burden on landfills. “These are really the only recyclable single-use instruments in the world”, Mr. Willis beamed. “So we’re very proud to have them.” 

And that’s just the beginning. “We currently have an R&D project to reduce our packaging. We’ve completely moved our sales to digital… We’re working hard to do a lot – and we know we can do a lot more,” Mr. Willis concluded. And if half of the companies in the packed Exhibition Hall are even half as committed as Rayner, a cleaner and greener future may be closer than we think. 

Editor’s Note: The 40th Congress of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS 2022) was held in Milan, Italy on September 16-20, 2022. Reporting for this story took place during the Congress.

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