Innovative solution tackles recycling challenge of medicine blister packs

AL Circle

In a recent statement, the General Manager for TerraCycle Europe, Julien Tremblin, stressed the importance of expanded recycling solutions for empty medicine blister packs. These packs, essential for safeguarding medications, pose a significant recycling challenge due to their complex composition. They cannot be processed through standard home recycling bins, compounding the issue.

Innovative solution tackles recycling challenge of medicine blister packs

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Tremblin pointed out that while there is high consumer demand for recycling these packs, the existing infrastructure's capacity falls short. He stressed the need for collective action from all stakeholders to bridge this gap promptly. However, the economic feasibility of recycling these packs remains a significant hurdle, as the cost of recycling often exceeds the value of the recycled material.

Due to these economic constraints, local authorities need help integrating blister pack recycling into kerbside collections. Tremblin urged immediate collaboration among stakeholders to implement straightforward solutions within their organisations to alleviate this growing environmental concern.

The call to action comes amid escalating public awareness and demand for sustainable practices, emphasising the critical need for accessible and efficient recycling avenues for medicine blister packs.

Medicine blister packs are crucial for safeguarding medications in the healthcare sector, yet addressing their recycling presents significant challenges. These include economic constraints and inadequate recycling facilities, highlighting the need for effective solutions to enhance their sustainability.

Julien Tremblin, General Manager for TerraCycle Europe, said, "This is why TerraCycle is constantly looking for innovative ways to find recycling solutions to the most challenging problems out there, including empty medicine blister packs."

"We have been recycling empty blister packs in the UK for years, launching our first solutions in 2018. Since then, we have collected and recycled over 75 million blister packs at hundreds of high-traffic locations around the UK."

"We recently launched TerraCycle BlisterBack with a vision to create a shared responsibility whereby locations that are prescribing, using or manufacturing medicine blister packs in large volumes, like big pharmacy chains, pharmaceutical companies, local independent pharmacies, hospitals, care homes and vet practices, take responsibility for recycling them directly or provide a way for their patients or customers to be able to do so."

TerraCycle's innovative recycling process begins by separating medicine blister packs' plastic and aluminium components, typically discarded as general waste. These materials are transformed into recycled raw materials that can be used to create new, durable products. For example, the aluminium from the packaging can be used to manufacture nuts and bolts, while the plastic can be repurposed into pipes and window frames.

Through the TerraCycle BlisterBack initiative, the company is committed to establishing a widespread network of drop-off points across the UK in the coming months and years. This initiative will provide convenient locations for people to recycle empty medicine blister packs, contributing to a sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to waste management.

Tremblin said, "We encourage organisations within the health industry—from general practices to pharmacies, hospitals, care homes, and veterinary practices—to join forces in the effort to fight against plastic waste and stop empty medicine blister packs from being incinerated or ending up in landfills."

“This initiative also enables members of the public to drop off their empty blister packs at all collection points, which will be available on the TerraCycle BlisterBack map, creating an industry-wide recycling network across the UK.”

“As an alternative option, individuals can purchase a Zero Waste Bag and can then drop off their full bag of empty medicine blister packs at one of the +7,000 InPost Lockers across the UK for recycling.”

TerraCycle has quantified the significant environmental benefits of recycling, particularly regarding carbon reduction and life-cycle assessments across various categories. TerraCycle's recycling models have been shown to reduce the environmental impact of end-of-life products by an average of 74 per cent compared to local municipal landfilling and by an average of 67 per cent compared to waste-to-energy methods. For instance, beauty packaging disposed of via waste-to-energy emits more carbon than landfill disposal. However, utilising TerraCycle's recycling methods results in a 70 per cent reduction in carbon emissions compared to waste-to-energy and a 55 per cent reduction compared to municipal landfilling.

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