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GlaxoSmithKline Aims to Collect 100,000 Inhalers

GlaxoSmithKline hopes to collect 100,000 used respiratory inhalers through a new collection program.The Complete the Cycle program is being offered to community-based retail pharmacies in 31 US markets, to make available to their customers. It expands on a GSK pilot in five markets, which collected nearly 2,700 inhalers.

Participating pharmacies will have a Complete the Cycle collection container where customers can deposit empty inhalers as they pick up new prescriptions. Once the boxes are full, pharmacies send the inhalers directly to a specialized recycler. The plastics will be used to make new household products, such as plastic hangers and plastic flowerpots.

The recovered aerosol canisters will be sent to a specialist company to capture remaining gas and recycle the metal components.

Currently, inhalers may not be recycled by curbside recyclers, and therefore likely go to landfills, GSK said.

The Complete the Cycle program is administered for GSK by TerraCycle, which will also manage the recruitment of pharmacies and the roll-out of program materials to the participating stores. The GSK program aligns with other efforts offered by many pharmacies to collect and recycle items, such as empty drink containers, plastic bags or pill bottles, the company says.

Earlier this year, a study from Green Research was not very complimentary of the sustainability efforts of medical equipment manufacturers. But the report did highlight two companies, Stryker and BD, for creating businesses that reclaim, recycle or remanufacture used medical products, helping hospitals to reduce their waste burden and creating a new revenue stream in the process.

In September, California Gov. Brown signed a waste handling bill, which has potentially important implications for entities handling pharmaceutical items, including pharmacies, retailers, groceries, hospitals, medical clinics, and other such facilities which handle pharmaceutical and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.

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