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Inhaler recycling launched by TerraCycle UK and GSK

A campaign to recycle inhalers is being rolled out in 200 pharmacies across the country by drug giant GlaxoSmithKline and TerraCycle UK.

The Complete the Cycle scheme was trialled earlier this year in 40 branches of Co-Operative pharmacies across south Wales and the south east of England.

During the pilot around 10% of inhalers given out, around 6,000 inhalers, were brought back for recycling, preventing the release of inhaler propellant, which is a greenhouse gas.

This is the equivalent of saving 35 tonnes of CO2, around the same amount that would be released by driving a car around the world six times.

The Complete the Cycle scheme is part of GSK’s aim of having zero waste to landfill by 2020.

GSK commercial operations director Nick Lowen said: “As a company we want to champion and lead sustainability standards for the pharmaceutical industry.

“We are fully committed to finding innovative ways to increase our use of renewable materials and create less waste. Complete the Cycle shows that by working with our customers we really can do more to protect our environment.”

TerraCycle UK general manager Chris Baker said: “The general public is very familiar with the idea of recycling consumer goods such as plastics or glass, but this move into the medical devices arena represents a significant step.” 

The Co-operative Pharmacy clinical services manager Fiona Caplan-Dean said: “We live and breathe our ethical strategy and are fully committed to responsible retailing; as such, we are delighted to be at the forefront of this exciting initiative, which is simple yet effective.”

By working with the Co-operative Pharmacy alone, more than 69,000 inhalers could be saved from going to landfill every year.

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