Corporate Citizenship

Our Colleagues who Support the Eyecity Eco Project

Our Colleagues who Support the Eyecity Eco Project

April 7, 2014

A building locates in a Ichikawa city, northwestern Chiba Prefecture, Japan, approximately 20 kilometers from the center of Tokyo. Each morning, 20 employees (as of February 2014) gather in a room in that building. All 20 employees are individuals who have intellectual or severe physical disabilities, and most of the employees who made their "debut" as members of society here.
Watching them make their way to the office on their own, one can see that they are overflowing with the joy of self-reliance and participation in society.
This is the Eye Care Division's "Ichikawa Challenge Office," which was opened on February 1, 2011. Starting with only seven people, the number grew steadily, as did the office space.

After empty disposable contact lens cases are washed, the attached aluminum is carefully removed and sent to a recycling company.

After empty disposable contact lens cases are washed, the attached aluminum is carefully removed and sent to a recycling company.

The Ichikawa Challenge Office provides support work for the recycling of empty disposable contact lens cases collected as part of the Eyecity Eco Project. The cases are made of the same polypropylene materials as are used to make PET bottle caps. The cases are reborn as recycled pellets that become the material for consumer electronic parts, flowerpots, and other items. Empty cases collected at the Eyecity chain of contact lens specialty stores nationwide are sent to the Ichikawa Challenge Office, where they undergo the processes of washing and aluminum removal, etc., then sold to a recycling company. All proceeds are donated to Japan Eye Bank Association.

Although the task itself is simple, all of the workers struggled to remove the pieces of aluminum with tweezers at the beginning. Now, though, the workers have gotten the hang of it and are able to remove the pieces cleanly. Everyone concentrates as they work, and the workplace is filled with an air of tension. By contrast, the mood during breaks is warm and friendly. Conversations are lively and all enjoy communicating with each other.

A job that contributes to the company and to society
"We work together with each individual in deep sincerity." Tomomi Sawatani, Ichikawa Challenge Office

"We work together with each individual in deep sincerity."
Tomomi Sawatani, Ichikawa Challenge Office


"We were able to get started because of the understanding and support of many people." Chizuko Sagawa, Human Resources & General Affairs Department

"We were able to get started because of the understanding and support of many people."
Chizuko Sagawa, Human Resources & General Affairs Department

The Ichikawa Challenge Office started from the desire to contribute to the local community by promoting the employment of individuals with disabilities. It is a specialized office that gives attention to the acceptance of individuals with intellectual disabilities, the first attempt by the Group to do so. During preparations for the launch of the office, no employment route had been established and the work to be done by the office had not been decided. It was a complete start from scratch. The key point is that the occupational field was developed from the work inside the company as a department in the division, rather than as a special subsidiary. This made it possible to increase the presence of the office within the company.

The key was work to support the Eyecity Eco Project, an initiative to recycle empty contact lens cases. By completely taking over the task that shop staff had been performing up to that point, the Ichikawa Challenge Office was able to support the work of the shops while at the same time contributing to society through donations and helping the environment. The employees of the office are able to contribute to society through their jobs, benefiting both the company and society. The office also utilizes outside resources with expertise in employment and management. In addition to requesting support from the City of Ichikawa's incorporated NPO "Chiraku," the office also hired Tomomi Sawatani as a resident manager, due to her experience with connecting companies and individuals with disabilities at a job assistance center in Tokyo.

With the cooperation of customers and staff members of the individual Eyecity shops as well, the number of empty cases received has steadily increased since the operation started in February 2011. To keep up with that increase, a few new employees are added every six months. In these and other ways, the fruits of everyone's efforts are increasing. As of January 2014, the number of empty cases shipped has increased 165% since July 2011 when the office began receiving cases from locations nationwide. "Although we have disabilities, we each want to do our best to do what we can, and be useful to someone." As the employees work with that desire in their hearts, they sometimes find notes from Eyecity staff members in the empty cases that arrive from the shops. Reading the words "Thank you for all your hard work" on the notes makes it possible for all of the employees to feel deeply the joy of knowing that they are doing work that is needed by someone.

To participate in society and walk step by step along the path to self-reliance despite having a disability. Not only is that the fervent desire of the disabled individuals themselves, but also of those who care for them as well. HOYA will continue to walk alongside our colleagues with disabilities, making accommodations in each workplace, with a focus on the Ichikawa Challenge Office.

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