May 12, 2020
ttr3 minute read

What exactly is bio-acetate?

What exactly is bio-acetate?

Sounds fancy, but in fact it’s pretty simple.

Since moving away from crafting frames from actual tortoise shell (hence the now commonly used name for a mottled, brown colour!) sunglasses frames have generally been made of acetate. Known for being lightweight and flexible to allow frames to bend slightly and return to their original shape instead of breaking when pressure is applied to them, this versatile material is made up of a polymer derived from wood pulp and other natural cotton fibres. And it’s been sat firmly at the number one spot for sunglasses and glasses for… well, most of our lifetime.

Cellulose acetate is preferable for sunglasses over other materials as it is made from mostly renewable materials, it’s hypoallergenic, it can be created in a full spectrum of colours and can be easily adjusted by opticians if you need the fit tweaked. It’s been a front runner in the eyewear industry for decades and we’ve made many of our older frames from it, but there is one problem with this option. And it’s called plasticisers.

In order to create this acetate material, you need to add a plasticiser into the mix. These contain a petroleum derivative, but as suppliers around the world look to innovate to lessen their impact on the planet we see companies such as Mazzucchelli, the people behind the material used in our brand new collection, developing solutions to go greener by replacing this chemical as far as they can with a bio-based alternative.

male and female wearing bio-acetate sunglasses

Enter bio-acetate, where the plasticisers used in production have a far higher percentage (87% in Mazzucchelli’s case for their M49 sheets) of content from renewable sources versus their more traditional counterparts. What does this mean? Well, it means that your sunglasses will biodegrade more easily at the end of their economic life and as a result is better for our planet. Plus, it reduces our reliance on non-renewable resources.

….and what qualifies as being certified ‘bio-degradable’? The industry standard for biodegradability is UNI-EN-ISO 14855-2: 2018, which means that biodegradation of the cellulose acetate must exceed 90% already after 115 days of incubation. Now we should add that this has to be the right conditions. The rate of biodegradation depends on real-life conditions in the home composter or the composting plant your frames end up at. Indeed do you know if  you have a local composting plant in the first instance? Perhaps a journal piece for another time.

The flip side of this is that unless you wish to store your sunglasses in warm soil when not wearing them then there is going to be no impairment on your frames during their lifetime on your face.

For Pala we see bio-based acetate as the best solution in market right now for producing high performance frames that are better for the planet. All styles added to the Pala collection will always be exclusively bio acetate. Our latest non-polarised lenses are made from 39.5% castor bean too, so we’re making in-roads there too. We’ll always be seeking the best solution and as science and tech improves material compositions for lessening environmental impact, you can sure we’ll be one of the first to react and champion that in our eyewear.

We want you to get outdoors and enjoy the incredible playground that this planet provides in as light-touch way as possible; if we can help by equipping you with the an equally light-touch pair of frames to accompany you on that journey then all the better for it.


bio-acetate sunglasses frame
Pendo bio-Acetate Sunglasses Frame


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Felicia is our ‘camera ninja’ when it comes to photography for the Pala website. Hailing from Sweden, but now based close to the Pala Brighton HQ. When she’s not exercising her skills of mind control to make models relax on shoots you’ll find her in a cafe enjoying a good cup of coffee, or at home baking cinnamon buns.



Emma is our marketing guru. When Emma isn’t planning, strategizing and creating content, she can be found travelling the world exploring its wonders, or in more recent times – headphones on with a paintbrush in her hand creating an abstract masterpiece!



Mary is the team leader of the Care4basket project in Bolgatanga, Ghana. When Mary is not organising and supporting the work across the communities, you will find her sowing sweet potatoes, ground nut, millet and looking after the animals on the farm.



Izzy is our Sales and Comms mastermind. When Izzy isn’t throwing herself down a mountain on a snowboard, she can normally be found rummaging through vintage shops or pounding the fields with her beloved puppy, Mac. She once mislaid a finger on a night out (eek!) – girl knows how to party!

cameraman and photographer Justin Hunt


Justin is our ‘Film Alchemist’. When he’s not laying on the floor looking for the next shot he’s either exploring the finest bourbons and listening to obscure country music tracks from the 50s and 60s. Normally found planning his next trip abroad or fuelling the pineapple on pizza debate. Just so you know he’s firmly in the Hawaiian camp!