Inhaler recycling scheme expands to hospitals

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Inhaler recycling scheme expands to hospitals

An inhaler recyling pilot scheme in Leicestershire involving almost two-thirds of pharmacies in the area is now expanding to local hospitals. 

The Take AIR recycling scheme was launched in February by manufacturer Chiesi alongside Leicestershire and Rutland LPC and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust as a year-long pilot. 

It allows patients to dispose of inhalers of any brand and any type by asking a pharmacist for an envelope that can be returned to Chiesi via Royal Mail.

With 63 per cent of local pharmacies currently taking part, Chiesi is now rolling it out to hospitals. The company is also creating a toolkit aimed at helping pharmacies, LPCs and NHS organisations set up similar schemes in other parts of the UK.

Diverted from landfill

Across the UK, more than 70 million inhaler devices are used each year and almost all currently end up in landfill.

Inhalers comprise several components, including plastic casings, aluminium canisters and propellants which are known greenhouse gases. Take AIR recovers and recycles many of the components, while non-recyclable materials are destroyed through a process called energy-from-waste.

At the pilot’s half-way mark, almost 7,000 envelopes had been issued to pharmacies, and nearly 2,000 returned to the recycling centre. "This has resulted in nearly 7,000 inhalers being successfully diverted from municipal waste and recycled so far," said Chiesi.

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