Yes, unfortunately contact lenses need to go in the trash. They should not be washed down the sink or flushed down the toilet! The packaging, however, can usually be recycled.
Research showed that one in five contact lenses users throws them into the sink or toilet. They float through the wastewater system and rather than degrading, they tear into smaller and smaller pieces. They settle into the sewage, and make their way into rivers, lakes, and the ocean. They contribute a load of at least 20,000 kilograms per year of waste.
Contact lenses are sometimes essential for people’s daily functioning, so they’re not as easy to cut out as plastic bags or straws. Until we can find a better solution, they need to be discarded properly to avoid pollution.