Leicestershire to Benefit from First of Its Kind Postal-Based Inhaler Recycling Scheme

Pharmaceutical company Chiesi Limited has launched a unique pilot scheme in Leicestershire to easily dispose of and recycle inhalers through the post. The Leicestershire Take AIR (Take Action for Inhaler Recycling) is supported by University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and Leicestershire and Rutland Local Pharmaceutical Committee and will run for 12 months, after which it will be measured for effectiveness and how it can best be rolled out in other areas. The scheme can be used for any inhaler of any brand and any type.

Take AIR is the first and only scheme to allow people to dispose of and recycle their empty, unwanted, or out-of-date inhalers through the post, supporting a more sustainable way of living for people with respiratory illnesses. Those wishing to use the scheme can simply ask their local pharmacist (in the Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland area only) for a Take AIR pre-paid postage envelope, insert up to four inhalers into the envelope and post the pre-paid sealed envelope into a Royal Mail post box.

Dr Anna Murphy, Consultant Respiratory Pharmacist, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said, “We are proud to support the Chiesi Limited scheme alongside the Local Pharmaceutical Committee for Leicestershire & Rutland, to bring this innovative scheme to the people of Leicestershire. We all want to do our bit to help the environment and at this current time, with many of us wanting to limit how often we go into closed spaces, a postal-based scheme is a great way for people in the area to easily recycle their used inhalers.”

Disposing of and recycling inhalers is a simple way to help the environment. Some inhalers contain plastics which are not often recycled in council recycling schemes. Additionally, local councils are not able to dispose of, or recycle the gas contained in pMDI inhalers. Disposing of puffer inhalers correctly prevents the release of greenhouse gases from the canister into the atmosphere. Through the Take AIR scheme, the aluminium canisters will be recycled and reused. The plastic components will also be recycled and put back into the plastic supply chain. Any remaining propellant gas will be extracted and reused in items such as fridges and air conditioning units. Non-recyclable materials will be converted into energy through a process called energy-from-waste.

Vinay Mistry, Service Development Lead, Leicestershire & Rutland Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said, “Pharmacies across Leicestershire will be invited to take part in the Take AIR scheme and will have the pre-paid envelopes available for patients when collecting their prescriptions or receiving a home delivery – so for anyone wanting to find out more, please do ask your pharmacist for more information. We hope this innovative scheme will discourage patients from putting their empty inhalers in the domestic waste. This scheme offers an alternative to the in-pharmacy waste collection service that is already available.”

On average around 73 million inhalers are used in the UK every year. A recent survey of people with asthma discovered that half were worried about the carbon footprint of their inhalers and felt guilty about not recycling, with more than three quarters stating they would recycle their used inhalers on a more regular basis if they could just post them to a recycling centre.

Tom Delahoyde, Managing Director of Chiesi in the UK and Ireland, commented, “As part of our ongoing commitment towards a sustainable future, Chiesi has developed and funded the Leicestershire Take AIR scheme. We want to help people who use inhalers and are worried about the impact on the environment, by making an easy and safe process to recycle, particularly in these challenging times. Chiesi is committed to promoting sustainability, and this initiative demonstrates our resolve to strive for the highest social, legal and environmental standards as a B Corp® certified company.”

All inhalers – of any brand and type – can also still be returned to any community pharmacy for safe disposal. More information about the Take AIR scheme can be found at https://www.chiesi.uk.com/patient-care-and-environmental-sustainability.