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Inhaler recycling - where now?


Greener respiratory healthcare: where do we go now as the inhaler recycling schemes comes to an end?

There is an urgent need for a national strategy to avoid the estimated 73 million respiratory inhalers prescribed each year from entering landfill, concluded participants at the PCRS Greener Respiratory Healthcare Initiative meeting held this summer. As GSKs ‘Complete the Cycle’ scheme comes to an end later this month, participants expressed concern that there were no plans to replace it or offer patients an alternative way to dispose of used inhalers.

In addition to inhaler disposal, the issue of the move towards low carbon devices was discussed. While PCRS support a switch to low carbon devices where the change is clinically appropriate, safe and acceptable to patients, we do not advocate ‘blanket switching’ of patients from one inhaler type to another in a practice or an area. Participants at the meeting agreed that the long-term move to such devices was a key part of any effort towards greener respiratory healthcare in the UK and that patient choice and patient safety should guide future formulary decisions.

The meeting, attended by GPs, nurses, pharmacists, patients and patient organisations, academics, NHS commissioners and Public Health England, is part of the PCRS Greener Respiratory Healthcare Initiative through which we aim to support all those involved in commissioning and delivering respiratory healthcare to minimise the associated environmental impact without compromising quality of care. A PCRS white paper is in preparation which will include not only an analysis of our current situation but personal experience, guidance, suggestions and protocols to help us all move forward towards a greener respiratory healthcare service that keeps the patient and their needs and preferences firmly at the heart of everything we do.

View PCRS position statement on Environmental Issues