Your questions answered: How can I recycle blister packs for pills and tablets?
SV asks: “My daughter has to take pills every day so we’re looking for a way to recycle the blister packs they come in. Superdrug in Brighton will take them but only small amounts. What are our other options?” We asked award-winning recycling goddess Cat Fletcher for an answer.
Cat Fletcher responds:
“The only scheme I know of for recycling pill blister packs is the TerraCycle scheme, which is sponsored by brands Benadryl, Buscopan, Calpol, Nurofen, Imodium, Nicorette, Optrex, BuscoMint, Dulcolax, Sudafed and Allevi.
The collection points at SuperDrug stores are for ‘individual’ waste blister packs, which then go to Terracycle. Superdrug won’t accept ‘bulk’ drop-offs of blister packs. So if, say, a community group wants to do bulk collections they must pay Terracycle themselves to accept the blister packs to recycle.
To be honest, I find a lot of these recycling schemes quite bogus. In theory, the producers are taking responsibility for their end-of-life product packaging (notice all the press releases when they get launched) but the schemes are always skewed to make them look good while literally abusing the good efforts of community volunteers (in my humble opinion) and they are always not quite harmonised across the country.
Every material/product scheme has its own set of often complex rules, sizes, costs. Plus, blister packs are ‘fused multi-material’ so I do wonder what value is created from driving them all over the country to be reprocessed into (a probably) very low value new material stream.
If you want to action things, why not write a letter to Bayer (one of the biggest pharmaceutical firms) asking them to cover the cost of recycling bulk blister packs and point out the issue, to try and address the above stupidity.
I have several waste blister packs a week and I have absolutely no guilt in putting them straight into my black binbag to go to the Newhaven Incinerator (which I can see from my kitchen window and which therefore involves very low HGV energy and pollution compared to recycling). Our household of two adults does not even fill half a binbag in a month, and quite a bit of it is blister packs, as kerbside recycling is so good in Lewes District. So I have no issue with not traipsing to Superdrug to drop off some blister packs for recycling.
Other sources of help
The only other thing I can suggest is contacting ReFactory they are in Hull but do bespoke recycling (for PPE and odd plastics for example). The Green Centre in Brighton has also put together a list of recycling options. It covers quite a lot of materials/products and national schemes so may be useful. Although the first part of it is very specific to Brighton, which has sh*t recycling options compared to Lewes…”
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