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Blister Pack Recycling Update

Thank you to all the residents and staff who took part in this fantastic UK-first project, which has sadly finished across the Vale of York. We filled all our 160 boxes, as well as a few extra freebies!

The idea originally came from our 'Patient Participation Group', who were looking for a local solution to this hybrid (plastic and aluminium) packaging that cannot be put in kerbside recycling. In fact there are only a few niche recycling hubs that can separate the two elements here in the UK, and we’re lucky to have one close by in Hull: ReFactory.

It surprised 95% of people taking part that this recycling process is not paid for by drug companies, the local council, or the NHS. Our project was only possible because we applied for some funding from a one-off pot from the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network at the end of 2022, and were successful.

What now then? Whilst we continue to look for funding, the current options are:

1 - Buy a box. Any business or community wanting to continue collecting can self-fund by purchasing a box here. Remember the cost includes the entire process from box delivery and collection, to recycling at the factory, and creation of a new item (such as a bench or piece of playground equipment).

2 - Superdrug. The nearest Superdrug pharmacies are in Beverley, Harrogate, and Leeds. Remember, only Superdrugs with a pharmacy are taking part. There is no postal service in the UK currently; Aldi have stopped doing this.

3 - Boots are rolling our their own blister pack recycling scheme, starting in London but hopefully moving further across the UK, and even as far afield as Yorkshire one day... ^sighs wistfully^. This is for deposits of 15 strips each time, and then you get points to spend in store in exchange. And we all know points mean prizes, right?! Please pop into your local Boots and use/ask about/show interest in the scheme and this may help chivvy them on!

4 - remember, blister packs cannot go in kerbside recycling boxes. You could keep hold of them in the hopes another scheme will start, or if not, they should go in your domestic (black bag) waste.

The above schemes only apply to empty packaging of course.

As always, any unused or unwanted medicines should be returned to a pharmacy (any) or practice dispensary. This includes inhalers and liquids - please don't flush or pour liquids away or wash out the bottles! And if you're struggling to take your medication because of side effects or concerns please speak to your friendly Pharmacist or GP Surgery.

We were absolutely staggered by the enthusiasm for this scheme and so grateful to everyone who's participated - especially all the staff who built the boxes, and helped advertise and encourage patients to use them. We’re also grateful for the publicity from BBC Radio York, the York Press, and Greener Practice. Since the General Election is coming up, please consider the NHS and the waste production/recycling when looking at the voting options; medicines and prescribing make up 25% of the NHS's carbon footprint so projects like this one are very meaningful. You can write to your MP to push for legislation that ensures packaging manufacturers fully-fund these recycling boxes in the future as well as altering the deign in the first place to make them 100% reusable. There's some information here from the Health Foundation (completely impartial) on the three main parties' NHS plans.

And finally on a positive note, we have a few projects underway to encourage patients to check they are only ordering what they need, to reduce the frustration of unwanted medicines piling up at home and going out of date (more on this soon!), and we are now recycling empty EYE DROP BOTTLES (any brand, ones you've bought over-the-counter, prescribed, and even those little squeezy single-dose units) across the Vale of York. Find out more here...

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