Boots to expand recycling scheme for medicine blister packs

The multiple already offers the scheme in some stores, but plans to roll it out more widely early in 2024.
empty blister packs

Pharmacy chain Boots is to expand a recycling scheme for medicine and vitamin blister packs in its branches.

The recycling scheme is currently available at several Boots branches, but a spokesperson for Boots confirmed to The Pharmaceutical Journal that it plans to roll the scheme out more widely early in 2024.

Blister packs are not recyclable via local authority kerbside collections because they are complicated to recycle, meaning they usually go to landfill or incineration.

According to the Boots website, customers can register to take part in the scheme via the Scan2recycle app.

When a customer has collected 15 empty blister packs, they can drop them into recycling bins at selected Boots stores to be processed by waste management firm MyGroup.

Once the blister packs have been received, MyGroup separates the foil and plastic using specialised machines.

The separated metal foil is recycled using conventional methods and the plastic is processed into a useable form or made into a material called MyBoard, which can be used to replace plywood in items such as furniture, garden planters and shop fittings.

A spokeperson for MyGroup told The Pharmaceutical Journal that its blister pack recovery process “includes provision for accidental hazardous contamination from unused medicines that may be inadvertently deposited through the scheme, with the company holding the appropriate environmental permits to process such waste and still achieve full recovery of materials”.

They added that MyGroup is also trialling a blister pack recycling scheme in Tesco stores in collaboration with consumer healthcare company Kenvue.

Superdrug also runs a medicines blister pack recycling scheme in its pharmacy branches.

According to the Superdrug website, the store works with the manufacturers of Benadryl, Calpol, Nurofen, and Nicorette to include collection boxes in every Superdrug pharmacy.  

It originally ran a blister pack recycling scheme with recycling company TerraCycle between 2020 and 2022.

A spokesperson for Superdrug told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “The medicine packet recycling programme, available in Superdrug pharmacies, is still running and remains very popular.”

Supermarket chain Aldi also announced in October 2023 that it was trialling a blister pack recycling scheme for its own-label medicines, in partnership with TerraCycle.

Under the scheme, customers can post their empty blister packs to be recycled, using a Freepost shipping label on the Aldi website.

TerraCycle also sells an ’empty medicine blister pack zero waste box’, which pharmacies can purchase to offer their customers a way to recycle medicine blister packs in store.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, February 2024, Vol 312, No 7982;312(7982)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.229333

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