The scheme, Complete the Cycle, is run in partnership with TerraCycle UK and was piloted earlier this year in selected branches of The Co-operative Pharmacy. The initiative is just one of the steps GSK is taking to meet its target of having zero waste to landfill by 2020.

The scheme was initially piloted in 40 branches of the Co-operative Pharmacy across the south of Wales and the south east of England. In just six months around 6,000 GSK respiratory inhalers, approximately 10% of those that would normally be disposed of, were returned to participating stores, preventing the release of the inhaler propellant, which is a greenhouse gas.

The amount of propellant saved as a result of the pilot scheme is equivalent to preventing the release of approximately 35 tonnes of CO2. The Co-operative Pharmacy is now expanding the scheme to 200 branches across the UK.

Approximately 35m GSK respiratory inhalers, including m Ventolin packs, are used in the UK each year, generating around 450 tonnes of waste. Based on the involvement of The Co-operative Pharmacy alone, the scheme could potentially save more than 69,000 respiratory inhalers from reaching landfill in just one year.

GSK’s commercial operations director Nick Lowen said: “As a company we want to champion and lead sustainability standards for the pharmaceutical industry. We are committed to finding innovative ways to increase our use of renewable materials and create less waste.”

The Co-operative Pharmacy’s clinical services manager Fiona Caplan-Dean added: “The response seen during the pilot phase was extremely encouraging and we are pleased we can expand our involvement to a total of 200 Co-operative Pharmacies.

“We live and breathe our ethical strategy and are fully committed to responsible retailing – as such, we are delighted to be at the forefront of this initiative, which is simple yet effective.”

Maxine Perella

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