Leics pharmacies support innovative inhaler recycling pilot

Leics pharmacies support innovative inhaler recycling pilot

February 17, 2021

Community pharmacies in Leicestershire are participating in a unique pilot, developed and funded by Chiesi Limited, to help their patients to easily dispose of and recycle any type and brand of inhalers through the post.

The Leicestershire Take AIR (Take Action for Inhaler Recycling) pilot is supported by University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and Leicestershire and Rutland Local Pharmaceutical Committee and it will run for 12 months, after which it will be evaluated.

This is the first scheme to allow people to dispose of and recycle their empty, unwanted, or out-of-date inhalers through the post, supporting a more sustainable way of living for people with respiratory illnesses. Those wishing to use the scheme can simply ask their local pharmacist (in the Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland area only) for a Take AIR pre-paid postage envelope, insert up to four inhalers into the envelope and post the pre-paid sealed envelope into a Royal Mail post box.

Chiesi has developed the scheme as part of their commitment towards a sustainable future and it is also fully aligned to NHS goals to increase the recycling of or environmentally safe disposal of inhalers, to reduce the release of greenhouse gases from the canister into the atmosphere.

Commenting on the pilot, Dr Anna Murphy, Consultant Respiratory Pharmacist, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said:

“We are proud to support the Chiesi Limited scheme alongside the Local Pharmaceutical Committee for Leicestershire & Rutland, to bring this innovative scheme to the people of Leicestershire. We all want to do our bit to help the environment and at this current time, with many of us wanting to limit how often we go into closed spaces, a postal-based scheme is a great way for people in the area to easily recycle their used inhalers.”

On average around 73 million inhalers are used in the UK every year and a recent survey of people with asthma discovered that half were worried about the carbon footprint of their inhalers and felt guilty about not recycling, with more than three quarters stating they would recycle their used inhalers on a more regular basis if they could just post them to a recycling centre.

Disposing of and recycling inhalers is a simple way to help the environment. Some inhalers contain plastics which are not often recycled in council recycling schemes. Additionally, local councils are not able to dispose of, or recycle the gas contained in pMDI inhalers. Disposing of pMDI inhalers correctly prevents the release of greenhouse gases from the canister into the atmosphere.

Through the Take AIR scheme, the aluminium canisters will be recycled and reused. The plastic components will also be recycled and put back into the plastic supply chain. Any remaining propellant gas will be extracted and reused in items such as fridges and air conditioning units. Non-recyclable materials will be converted into energy through an energy-from-waste process.

Take AIR scheme infographic

Further information on the scheme


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