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According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 18.7 million people have asthma in the United States. Asthma is usually managed with a respiratory inhaler, and now there’s good news for people who like to recycle. The Complete the Cycle recycling program will be available for inhaler recycling in pharmacies across the nation.
It’s very simple for you to recycle inhalers through this program, which accepts any brand of inhaler. Simply look for the specially designed collection box at participating pharmacies and drugstores and drop your inhaler in for recycling. Shipping is prepaid, so once the boxes are full, pharmacies send them directly to a recycler where the inhalers are sorted and recycled. The inhalers will actually not be recycled into new inhalers, but instead the materials will be separated out and reused. Plastics will be used to make new household products, such as hangers and flower pots. The remaining gas inside the inhaler canisters is recovered and reused, and the metal is recycled.
The recycling program will be available in 31 cities, from Anchorage, Alaska, to Syracuse, New York. British drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) sponsors the program and supplies the collection boxes, as it supports their company-wide goal of reducing waste to landfills by 25% by 2015. According to a press release, when GSK piloted the program in five cities, nearly 2,700 inhalers were collected.
Millions of Americans use one inhaler on average each month, and the medicine either expires or runs out and it’s time for a new inhaler. This means millions of opportunities to recycle inhalers. Currently, inhalers may not be recycled by curb-side recyclers, and therefore likely go to landfills, so this is a great way to recycle. Remember that this recycling option is not a medicine take-back program, but we have an article about recycling medications for more information.
Inhaler Recycling Near You
Hopefully more and more pharmacies will continue to join the program. The inhaler recycling program has already been running in the United Kingdom and a pilot program has begun in Chile, so check back to see where it will be expanding to next. If your pharmacy does not yet participate, let them know they can order a recycling kit.