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Local recycling centres may soon accept spectacles to distribute to Africa’s needy

A pilot project - organised by Lions Club and being considered by council tonight - could see all nine borough recycling centres accepting unwanted glasses and sunglasses to distribute to those in need in Africa

Old and unwanted spectacles should shortly be collected at recycling centres across the borough and shipped to Africa to help those in need.

The move – which would be introduced at all recycling centres across the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council area – would be part of a six month trial.

The charity endeavour would involve the placing of new 240 litre bins in each venue – including Armagh, Lurgan, Craigavon and Banbridge – for collection.

A request has been made to council to facilitiate the effort, which is being organised by local Lions Club representatives, and will be considered at council’s environment committee tonight (Tuesday).

The intention is to “capture reading glasses and casesany prescription including sunglasses – for adults and children for reuse in Africa”.

Daniel OReilly, from Newcastle Lions, has liaised with local Banbridge and Armagh Lions to facilitate collections from all nine recycling centres.

The Lions Project is currently operating in conjunction with local authorities in Limavady, Carrickfergus, Ballynahinch, Newcastle, and Antrim Town.

And, if agreed by ABC Council, could be introduced in this borough in April.

A paper to council outlines the background to the charitable endeavours.

It explains: “Lions International are one of the biggest charities in the world. They have five global causes, one of which is to restore sight of others.

Lions International finance free eye operations to help restore the sight of many people in the developing world and provide glasses. Glasses are more readily available and financially accessible to those in need.

The Lion Clubs work with Medico Lions in Le Harvre, France; Medico, employ opticians helped by Lion volunteers.

In their 4,000 sq m premises, they receive approximately three million pairs of spectacles each year. The opticians clean and calibrate the glasses and then bag them with the measurements on them.

Each year 350,000 pairs of glasses are sent to developing areas like Kenya in response from Lion Clubs.

Lions Ireland appointed two volunteers, Daniel O’Reilly, in Northern Ireland, and John ODonovan, in the Republic of Ireland, to promote and coordinate recycling of spectacles in all Lion Clubs.

The Lions Clubs sort, count and courier the glasses to France.

Since July 2022, the project has sent 6,500 pairs of glasses for reuse, both helping the sight of others and avoiding unnecessary landfill.

Officers have informed councillors attending tonight’s meeting: “Environmental Services recognise that it would be beneficial to support this as a pilot project.

The public at recycling centres often presents glasses; the public would prefer they were reused instead of landfilled.

“Currently there are no other avenues for reuse and recycling.”

It is expected that the pilot project will be approved. It would then be reviewed after six months to see if it should remain in place.

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