April 21st, 2010
By: Jill Connelly
Gunn & Richards, Inc.
This week is the 40th annual Earth Week and whether it is a desire to do their part for the environment or simply to meet customer demands, many pharmacists are looking for ways to “go green.” It can seem like a daunting task but here are some simple ways incorporate green concepts into the pharmacy workplace.
There is one simple way for pharmacies to reduce their plastic consumption: use the smallest size vial needed for a prescription. It’s no surprise that smaller the vial, the less plastic needed for production but the savings is probably more than people realize. For example, an average 13 dram vial uses approximately 30% more plastic to produce than an 8 dram vial. This is not only an eco-friendly step but will save the pharmacy money as well as that same 13 dram vial is approximately 25% more expensive than the 8 dram. Multiply this by the 60,000 prescriptions the average pharmacy fills each year and both the plastic and financial savings are significant. Being green can save some green.
The Challenge of Recycling
By its nature, recycling in the pharmacy setting is challenging. Consumers who would like to recycle their used prescription vials can be directed to www.earth911.com. Using the plastic code on the bottom of the vials (usually #5 Polypropylene or #1 PET/PETE) they can locate the nearest recycling center. More and more curbside programs are offering recycling on plastic resins #1-7 and number of community recycling centers is growing daily.
Many pharmacies have asked about use of recycled plastic for the production of prescription packaging. While there are a few options, testing laboratories generally do not recommend the use of recycled plastic resign for pharmaceutical containers as they greatly decrease the likelihood the container will pass the rigorous USP testing requirements.
A growing concern is the misuse and disposal of medication. Old and unused medication is ending up in the hands of teenagers and in the country’s landfills. To help battle this growing concern and to coincide with Earth Week, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) has launched the “Dispose My Meds” campaign and the www.disposemymeds.org website to help consumers locate pharmacies where they can take their unused and expired medication for proper disposal. Companies such as Guaranteed Returns can provide return services for pharmacies and drug companies to collect and properly dispose of this medication. These types of programs can help keep medication from being misused and out of our country’s landfills and drinking water.
These are just a few steps can that be taking to help green-up the pharmacy workplace. Although they seem rather small, with a combined effort even these small steps can have a big impact.
Based in Lenexa, Kansas, Gunn & Richards has been providing prescription packaging supplies directly to America’s pharmacies for over 25 years.