Inhaler recycling scheme a good wheeze

A PIONEERING scheme set up by Glaxosmithkline (GSK) to recycle respiratory inhalers has received backing from pharmacies across the north east.

GSK is the first company to set up such a scheme, which is running in a number of countries, and the ‘Complete the Cycle’ recovery project enables people to reduce their carbon footprint by returning inhalers to a pharmacy for recycling. Any inhaler can be handed in regardless of whether it was made by GSK.

In Angus the Co-operative Pharmacies at 73 Murray Street, Montrose; 112 High Street, Arbroath; and 9 Fisheracre, Arbroath are taking part. A pilot programme was run last year involving the Co-operative and independent chains across the UK, which collected 89,546 inhalers for recycling, reducing landfill and saving 628 tonnes CO2 equivalent emissions.

The scheme also offers an opportunity to cut medicine wastage, as the pilot showed that 29 per cent of returned inhalers were not empty, and for pharmacists to ensure patients are using their medication correctly.

North East MSP Alison McInnes praised the project, which is part of the company’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. She said: “Some 73 million inhalers are used in the UK every year and almost two thirds are binned. Any initiative to tackle this must be welcome and I congratulate GSK for taking this forward.”

Neil Churchill, chief executive of Asthma UK, also said the scheme will be popular with patients.

He continued: “It’s also really interesting to see the results of the pilot scheme and we hope this project will mean pharmacists can give more support and advice to people with asthma regarding the use of their inhalers and how to manage their asthma better.”

Details of the ‘Complete the Cycle’ programme can be found online at