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DTLA engineers create eco-friendly sunglasses of recycled materials

By Hayley Fox
Published: Monday, April 02, 2012, at 09:04AM
Alex Watson

Founder Sean Kennedy with Sookie the dog modelling a pair of sunglasses.



Working out of a Bunker Hill home office, two biotech engineers are producing a line of sunglasses made from recycled materials -- their company's called Btl Optical (a.k.a. bottle optical - a play on their eco-friendliness.)

"We're representing something that we don't have right now," said Sean Kennedy, one of the company's founders, who added that him and partner Joshua Gilman are trying to enact "a little bit of a cultural change" in the industry.

The idea for these glasses suddenly came to the two creators when they were looking at a pile of plastic bottles one day, said Kennedy, and they realized the potential of the plastic.

Now, the two are trying to push their company into full scale production by promoting their Ray-Ban Wayfarer-esque frames on Kickstarter.

Every supporter that pledges $65 or more on Kickstarter will receive a pair of sunglasses if btl optical reaches their $26,500 goal. The more money a contributor donates, the higher end their sunglasses will be. For the high rollers donating $250, this means the white frame glasses with gold-coated lenses.

Kennedy said they hand-picked the batch of plastic to use for production and in this case, it was from the Audi car company. While the frames are made from 100 percent recycled materials, the lenses are not -- because that would me a sacrifice in quality, said Kennedy.

"The lenses [that they are using] are actually really high quality," he said. "It's the same stuff you find in Gucci, Prada, all those brands."

Even the hinges are flown in from Italy because of their disinct appearance and extreme durability, said Kennedy. He added that the glasses were lightweight and hand-etched with attention to surface design.

Btl optical isn't actually selling any frames yet, but are hoping within six weeks of reaching their goal on Kickstarter they'll be able to begin distribution. So far the two-man team have taken prototypes of the sunglasses to trade shows and are working with area optometrists to explore options for prescription lenses and glasses lenses.

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