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Glaxo breathes new life into US recycling

United States/United Kingdom – UK-based pharmaceutical group GlaxoSmithKline is launching a unique take-back and recycling initiative for US patients aided by respiratory inhalers. It is targeting pharmacies in 31 cities with its new Complete the Cycle programme, and expects to collect ‘€˜at least 100 000 inhalers’€™ during the project’€™s first year.

According to Glaxo, inhalers cannot be processed by US kerbside recyclers at present, so most end up in landfills. By providing an indoor collection point, ‘€˜patients can deposit empty inhalers as they pick up new prescriptions,’€™ the company says, claiming the first effective recycling solution.

A specialist recycler contracted by Glaxo will separate the inhalers’ various components. Metal from the canisters will be recycled, while plastic parts could be remoulded into car parts or household products such as hangers and flower pots. ‘€˜The inhalers will not be recycled to produce new inhalers,’€™ states Glaxo, adding: ‘€˜Gas remaining in inhalers that use a propellant will also be recovered and reused.’€™

The 31 cities chosen to launch the scheme were selected because their populations use more than 30 million inhalers per year, and on the basis of high existing rates for recycling of household waste among consumers.

Glaxo already operates similar versions of the take-back initiative in the UK and Chile, and is looking at additional locations as it seeks to expand the project both in the USA and internationally.

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