21.10.13 Asthma patients breathe new life into old puffers

21.10.13 Asthma patients breathe new life into old puffers

More than 600,000 asthma sufferers across Victoria are set to breathe a little more easily knowing their old puffers will no longer be contributing to landfill and CO₂ emissions thanks to the launch of an innovative, Australian-first puffer recycling initiative by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

The Complete the Cycle Inhaler Recycling and Recovery Scheme will be piloted across Victoria with a view to expanding nationwide and encourages patients to return empty respiratory inhalers to participating pharmacies for recycling. Once collected, the inhalers will be taken to a specialist recycling centre. Recovered plastics will be used in the creation of a range of household items, while non-recyclable components will be used as fuel or other means to help generate energy.

Supported by 49 Chemmart Chemists in Victoria and Asthma Australia, the unique scheme will help reduce the environmental impact of disposed inhalers which would otherwise end up in landfill. When disposed this way, old inhalers also pose a risk in terms of greenhouse gas emissions should the gas canisters be pierced and any propellant released.

Dr Andrew Yeates, Medical Director of GSK Australia, said the program has already proved successful in the UK and will help pave the way for a more environmentally sustainable treatment of respiratory disease in Australia.

“If every person in Australia were to recycle their inhalers for one year, we would save 52,869 tonnes of CO₂ which is the equivalent of driving around Prosolution the world 26,490 times3. By the end of 2015, we hope to have collected more than 1.5 million inhalers meaning major savings in terms of material waste and carbon emissions,” said Dr Yeates.

CEO of Asthma Foundation of Victoria, Robin Ould, said the GSK Complete the Cycle scheme can also play a vital role in improving patient management for the two million Australians living with asthma today.

“GSK’s Complete the Cycle Inhaler Recycling Scheme provides an opportunity for improving asthma management by connecting patients with pharmacists and opening up a space for discussion of current medication use and inhaler technique. In some circumstances this can, and should, result in referring people to their doctor for a review, ultimately meaning better health outcomes long-term,” he said.

The GSK Complete the Cycle Inhaler Recycling and Recovery Scheme was first launched in the UK in 2011 before being expanded across a number of countries including the US and allows for the safe recycling and recovery of all inhalers, not just those manufactured by GSK.

It is the only program of its type and is just one part of GSK’s long-term commitment to be carbon neutral across its whole value chain – from raw material purchase to product use and disposal – by 2050.

Anyone with asthma who wants to know more about managing their asthma should speak to their health care professional or local asthma foundation on 1800 Asthma.