While most local authorities can recycle certain plastics, some inhalers contain plastics and glasses that are not readily recycled through existing kerbside arrangements.
Over half of the surveyed UK adults are simply disposing of their inhalers in the general waste and a third are using their kerbside recycling service – wrongly thinking they will be recycled.
Progress has been made in the recycling of respiratory inhalers, with over one million being recycled over the last five years as part of a national scheme – Complete the Cycle. However, as the research shows, there is still far to go when it comes to correctly disposing of them.
To ensure respiratory inhalers are recovered and recycled correctly, GSK’s Complete the Cycle scheme allows people to bring their used inhalers into a pharmacy for recovery.
By taking an inhaler to a local participating pharmacy, the plastic and aluminium parts can be used in other products, and any potentially harmful greenhouse gasses can be collected and reused elsewhere, for example in car air conditioners. So far, the scheme has potentially saved the equivalent amount of emissions as taking 4,500 cars off the road in the UK
A further added benefit of the scheme is that it encourages patients to visit their pharmacy, giving them the opportunity to seek advice directly from a pharmacist to better understand their condition, improve their inhaler technique and get the best benefits from their medicine.
With around 73 million inhalers being used every year in the UK it is important to spread the message on the importance of cutting down the carbon footprint of used respiratory inhalers.
Matt Wilson, GSK’s Head of Global Environmental Sustainability, said: “the great thing about the scheme is that anyone can walk into a participating pharmacy, hand in their inhaler and know that it will go off to be recovered, reused and recycled in a responsible way.”