Win on Waste and Medicines Blister Packs

Since 2021, Win on Waste has been working to collect and recycle medicines blister packs, following a pilot programme run by Terracycle.

There was huge interest in this collection locally, which saw Win on Waste deal with over half a tonne of this waste during the course of the collection, which utilised free distribution undertaken by Superdrug and our own funded collections via UK-based company ReWorked.

Unfortunately, our collection is due to come to an end by 30th June, when we reach the end of our funding but many of our donors are still wondering what they can do with their blister packs locally – we can offer the advice below, which is correct at the time or writing.

Disposing of Blister Packs

  • Superdrug – at the time of publication, Superdrug is still offering a collection for medicines blister packs only at their stores which have an instore pharmacy. You can check on their website which stores these are but, in Dorset, we believe these to be Boscombe, Dorchester and Winton. They ask you to phone before you travel as they may have had to temporarily close the collection due to lack of storage. **Update** We have been informed by several people that Superdrug will only accept one small bag of blister packs at a time, and they can no longer accept any packs from community collections.
  • ReWorked – although not a free solution, ReWorked offer a medicines blister pack recycling box for sale. The cost of these boxes includes delivery and collection when full and may be an option for community groups and groups of friends who are committed to recycling the packs.
  • Terracycle – they also offer a medicines packet recycling box, very much along the lines of that offered by ReWorked. **Update** Terracycle is now working with Aldi to offer blister pack recycling to individuals. This involves signing up here and allows you to send a maximum of 2 envelopes/60 blister packs per month.
  • Locally – keep your eyes and ears open locally, as some independent pharmacies, vet surgeries and similar are investing in medicines packet boxes for their customers to use. This is very much on an ad-hoc basis, and we are unable to provide a list of any current locations

Campaigning on Blister Packs

Following our various projects around blister packs, Win on Waste has summarised our processes and findings and has contacted the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, our local MP at our registered address and the local MPs of some of our trustees and volunteers. We have also been in touch with WRAP, as they are a much larger organisation than us, but working in this area. We have heard back from our MPs and WRAP and will keep you updated when we can.

We have also been asked what members of the public can do to raise awareness of this issue and prompt the Government into taking action. You could:

  • Write to your MP on this issue – you can find your MP’s contact details online and get in touch with specific aspects of this issue that you would like them to tackle. Please note: You should only write to your own MP, as other MPs can only help their own constituents.
  • Write to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs or the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – you can find contact details for this department online, and can write to them directly, again with specific actions you would like to see on this issue.
  • Contact your local council – as recycling solutions do exist for this type of waste, it may be something that your local council could explore as an addition to their current services. Find the contact details of your local council online and write to the waste and recycling team.
  • Sign a petition – one of our Ambassadors, Alex, has started a petition to ask Government to call on the pharmaceutical companies to take responsibility for their medicines packet waste, and to make positive changes to their packaging which will make it easier to responsibly recycle – you can help by signing and sharing the petition.

Unfortunately, the news on blister packs is not positive overall, but Win on Waste has been encouraged by the number of people actively looking to responsibly dispose of medicines packet waste. We will update where we can with more information as the situation changes, but please do get in touch with us if you spot anything new around blister pack recycling in your area.

Win on Waste Launches Pilot Programme to collect Medicines Blister Packaging in Poole

Poole-based waste and recycling charity Win on Waste has today launched a pilot project aimed at responsibly recycling the plastic/foil packaging commonly found in medicines. Thanks to funding from the DPD Eco Fund, this waste will now be accepted at most Win on Waste sessions, starting with Hamworthy Library on Saturday 4th September.

Medicines blister packaging is commonly made of a mix of materials, which is hard to separate and recycle meaning the majority of this waste either finds its way to landfill, or is incorrectly included with kerbside recycling. This pilot project will send this waste to recycling specialist ReWorked where it will be separated, shredded and turned into plastic board which can then be made into products such as benches, picnic tables or garden planters.

Stacey Woods, Business Manager for Win on Waste said ‘There are a huge number of medicines blister packets used every day – with conservative estimates suggesting that 70 paracetamol tablets are sold per person, per year in the UK, that’s nearly 1.5 million items of plastic heading to landfill in the BCP area for that single drug alone.’

She continued, ‘Our aim is to use this pilot programme to assess the level of demand for responsible disposal of this waste, and use a combination of fundraising and sponsorship to ensure that it is able to continue in the long term.’

Medicines blister packaging is currently collected nationally by Superdrug and Terracycle, but there is very little coverage in the Poole area. Win on Waste aims to close this gap at their monthly waste collection sessions, which are listed on their website.

Win on Waste is a Poole-based waste and recycling charity which has been helping local people take control of their household waste since 2014. Collected items, including crisp packets, Pringles tubes and plastic milk bottle tops are directed out of landfill and the recycling system and towards charitable organisations. 13 good causes benefit from collection sessions on a monthly basis, including charities researching childhood brain tumours and breast cancer, International aid charities and Win on Waste themselves.

To find out more about Win on Waste, and to pledge towards the continuation of this project, use the panel below: