The UK’s first medicine packet recycling programme is being rolled out across pharmacies nationwide.
The ‘Little Packs, Big Impact’ initiative, is a partnership with recycling innovators TerraCycle which allows customers to recycle any empty prescription and over-the-counter medicine blister packets, simply and freely, by dropping them in dedicated bins the next time they visit their local participating pharmacy.
The empty blister packaging will then be converted into reusable raw materials using a unique recycling process – preventing blister packs spending a lifetime in landfill.
Brand manufacturer Sanofi UK Consumer Healthcare is the first to market this sustainability initiative, which aims to get 400 pharmacy drop-off recycling locations across the UK in the first year.
Working together with pharmacy teams and the public, our ambition is to help reduce plastic waste from landfill by letting little packs live again as reusable products
Silvina Vilas, UK Marketing Director at Sanofi Consumer Healthcare, makers of Buscopan and Dulcolax, says: “The Little Packs, Big Impact recycling initiative with TerraCycle is a significant move forward for the healthcare industry.
“Many people rely on medicines to manage self-treatable and long-term conditions, yet until now there hasn’t been a solution for the growing problem of medicine packaging waste. We believe in a healthy gut and a healthy planet, so are starting a movement to make it easier for people to recycle blister packs.
“The UK’s network of pharmacies has been keeping the nation on its feet during these challenging times. Working together with pharmacy teams and the public, our ambition is to help reduce plastic waste from landfill by letting little packs live again as reusable products, from waste bins to outdoor furniture, resulting in a big positive impact on the environment.”
Importance of recycling
To mark the launch, research by Buscopan and Dulcolax with 2,000 adults found that 65% use medicines in blister packs at least once a week, with headaches/migraines (85%), hay fever (50%) and digestive health (43%) conditions ranking as some of the biggest contributors to packaging waste.
The Little Packs Big Impact recycling initiative addresses consumer’s key concerns about the rise of plastic waste.
Blister pack recycling has been something that the public has long been asking TerraCycle to add to its roster of recycling options
The research, conducted before COVID-19 measures were introduced, found that almost two thirds (64%) have become more conscious about the importance of recycling over the past year. As a result, 83% of us now take our own bags to the supermarket, nearly half (47%) buy brands with recycled or recyclable packaging, whilst 60% reduce their plastic use in general.
Laure Cucuron, General Manager for TerraCycle Europe adds: “Blister packs are made of a complex mix of difficult-to-recycle materials required to protect medicines, including plastic and aluminium foil, which are not accepted by most council recycling systems so end up in household waste.
“Blister pack recycling has been something that the public has long been asking TerraCycle to add to its roster of recycling options. Now pharmacies and their customers can both play their part to help the environment with a small change by recycling empty blister packs through the Little Packs Big Impact scheme for the first time.”
How to sign up
Registered pharmacies across the UK can sign up to the programme in three easy steps by visiting the TerraCycle website. Once registered, they will appear on an online interactive map on the site, so customers can locate their nearest participating pharmacy drop-off point.
Participating pharmacies can order a branded collection bin and download other resources including promotional posters from the website. When the bins are full, pharmacies can download free shipping labels to send the empty blister packs to be recycled.
For each shipment of blister packs from a pharmacy, meeting the minimum weight requirements, TerraCycle will credit their account with points which can be redeemed as a cash reward to the charity, school or non-profit of their choice.