Nurses are being urged to encourage patients to recycle their inhalers.
Each year more than 46 million inhalers are thrown away by people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has started a national initiative called Complete The Cycle which aims to collect used inhalers.
And nurses can play their part in the scheme by making sure patients are aware that inhalers should be returned to a pharmacy to be recycled instead of thrown into the domestic rubbish, where they will end up in landfill.
GSK has already carried out a trial of the scheme and found that 29% of inhalers that were handed in still contained some medication. This indicated patients needed assistance in how to use their inhaler more effectively to help them manage their condition and cut down on waste.
Professor Ian Pavord, consultant physician and honorary professor of medicine at the Institute for Lung Health at Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital, said the initiative offered a responsible way for people to get rid of their inhalers. And he said it had the potential to increase interaction between patients and pharmacists to aid the management of respiratory disease.
He said people handing in inhalers that weren’t empty could be given advice by the pharmacist in how to use the device better.
More than 1,300 pharmacies are so far taking part in Complete The Cycle, meaning three out of four people in the UK live fewer than three miles from a place they could take their used inhaler. The scheme has received the backing of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the National Pharmacy Association and Recycle Now, part of WRAP (Waste & Resource Action Programme).