After our stories recently about the 250 tons of out of date, surplus and redundant medicines that are destroyed in an incinerator each year and the slightly more up beat story about the ability to recycle your unwanted medicines to help people in developing countries, I was interested to hear another recycling story shared by one of our facebook fans.
David posted up about the latest initiative between the Co-operative Pharmacy, GlaxoSmithKline and Terracycle.
The three companies have pioneered a initiative to enable patients with respiratory illnesses to recycle their inhalers at 40 participating Co-operative Pharmacies across South Wales and the South of England.
This scheme is the first in Europe and is on trial for six months. Around 35 million inhalers such as Ventolin are used in the UK each year, generating 450 tonnes of waste which ends up in landfill or is incinerated.
The inhalers will be collected in participating Co-Operative pharmacies and collected monthly by Terracycle where different parts of the inhaler will be recycled. The part which still can’t be recycled are the blister strips.
Here’s what happens to the components:
The plastics will remain on site for processing, after which the recycled components will be sold on for use in new products.
The recovered aerosol will be sent to a specialist company who use compaction and gas-liquid separation in order to recycle the metal components and collect any remaining liquid or propellant gas. The gas is then used as a replacement fuel in high temperature incinerators and cement kilns and no part of the aerosol container goes to landfill.
The blister strip which previously contained medically active ingredients will be treated by a specialist process in accordance with clinical guidelines.
There are still quite a lot of unanswered questions i my eyes about what will actually be happening to these inhalers, but I’d love to know what you think about the story!
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