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Australia’s first-ever free recycling program for blister packs has arrived thanks to Chemists’ Own®

Blister packs

Australian-owned over-the-counter medication brand, Chemists’ Own® has launched the country’s first-ever free recycling program for household blister pack waste. In partnership with innovative recycling company TerraCycle, the program will address the problem of medicinal blister pack rubbish by allowing Australians to drop off their empty blister packs at participating pharmacies.

Chemists’ Own® Blister Pack Recycling Program will trial in 49 Pharmacy Alliance stores in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, with a view to adding more stores in the future. The first-in-market program will invite Australians to visit participating stores to drop off all over-the-counter blister packs to be completely recycled. Cardboard outer packaging can continue to be placed in kerbside recycling.

In a recent survey conducted by TerraCycle, blister packs topped the list of items Australians wished to recycle. The results, detailed in the Household Recycling in Australia 2021: A TerraCycle Report, revealed 40% of those surveyed wanted a recycling solution for blister pack waste. Over the course of 2017–18, Australians spent an estimated $22.3 billion on medicines (including both prescribed and over-the-counter).1 The trial is aiming to divert 650,000 blister packs in its first year, the equivalent of 1,300 kg of waste from landfill. Daniela Priekopa, General Manager of Marketing at Chemists’ Own®, said the trial represents a landmark step in the pharmaceutical industry’s response to waste.

“As one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Australia, we are thrilled to be able to provide the first-ever free recycling program for blister pack waste in Australia in partnership with Pharmacy Alliance. For over 25 years, Chemists’ Own® has been dedicated to the health and wellbeing of Australians, and we want to extend this care to protecting the environment.

“We have no doubt that this trial will be a tremendous success and hope it inspires others in the wider pharmaceutical industry to take action for the environment.”

Jean Bailliard, General Manager of TerraCycle Australia explained how TerraCycle will recycle blister packs that were otherwise destined for landfill.

“Blister packs are made of various plastics, foils, and paper foils, which means they can’t be recycled in your kerbside bin. Every year, this amounts to an enormous amount of plastic waste which goes into landfill, where it takes hundreds of years to break down.

“The collected blister packs are shredded, washed, and sorted. Washing will remove any paper and residual foil, while float sink (a type of mechanical sortation) will sort the plastic types by density. The aluminium will be melted down and returned to its original form. Once the plastic is dried, it will be processed into thermoformed packaging.”

Darren Dye, Chief Executive Officer of Pharmacy Alliance, said pharmacies were eager to finally provide customers a solution to one of the most problematic waste issues today.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with Chemists’ Own® to provide the first in-store solution to recycle blister pack waste across 49 of our Pharmacy Alliance stores.”

“Blister pack waste has long been an issue for our pharmacies and customers, and now Chemists’ Own’s® trial for blister pack recycling will give Australians in VIC, NSW, and QLD a simple and easy way to recycle their household blister pack rubbish and make a positive impact on the environment.”

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