How to recycle old medicines

Filed in Blog by on August 12, 2016 2 Comments
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medical supplies from inter care - my zero wasteBack in 2011, I wrote a post called “Recycle your medicines and save lives“.

It spoke of a company called Inter Care who could collect returned medication from GP practices and recycle them to over one hundred health centres in six African countries.

It was a great way for us to clear our bathroom cupboards of clutter and do something positive for other people.

I was contacted by Charlotte from Inter Care this week, who wanted to give me an update. She wrote:

I have came across your blog post from 2011 and wish to update you on the work of Inter Care.

Sadly as of December 2015 nobody can accept patient returned medicines due to changes in legislation. They must all now be returned to their local dispensing practice or pharmacy to be disposed of.

However this does not mean bad news for Inter Care or for the recycling of medical supplies within the UK. We are still able to accept medical supplies such as bandages, dressings, syringes, needles, catheters etc ( A full list of items can be found on our website). Also we are still supporting our around 130 health units across 6 countries in rural sub-Saharan Africa with vital medical aid such as medicines donated directly from pharmaceutical companies and wholesalers.

I would be very grateful if you could update your post to reflect this information. This is due to we are still receiving small donations of medicines (not necessarily due to yourself), which sadly we have to dispose of straight away which costs the charity each time. As a charity who have recycled patient returned medicines for over 40 years this came as a big change for us. However, we are positive that we shall still continue to recycle the NHS waste of medical supplies and also medicines directly from pharmaceutical companies to ensure we can still provide medical care to those in need.

We are very grateful for your support.


While I’m saddened to hear that due to a change in legislation returned medicines can no longer be used for other people, I’m grateful to Charlotte for giving us updated information.

Here’s the most recent list of items you can donate to Inter Care:

medical items accepted by Inter Care for recyclingWhat about you – do you know of any other way to recycle unwanted medicines for a good cause?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

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  1. This is such a useful post,thank you for the update. I recently returned medicine to my doctors without even realising any other system existed. Shame the charitt can no longer accept returned medicines but the list is very useful.

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