Most of us have come across medical blister packs in our homes. A pack may contain some pharmaceutical tablets and other products.
So should it go to your trash bin, or is medical blister pack recyclable?
Medical blister packs are recyclable. But because of the toxicity of medicine they may have, it is advisable to take them to a medical blister pack recycling scheme participating in TerraCycle Medicine Packet Recycling Scheme.
Here, we’ll examine the recyclability of medical blister packs.
- What is a Medical Blister Pack?
- Can you Recycle Medical Blister Packs?
- What is a Blister Pack Recycling Scheme?
- Is there a Recycling Scheme for Medical Blister Packs?
What is a Medical Blister Pack?
A medical blister pack is packaging containing medication doses. It’s small, clear, or amber-colored plastic blisters.
Every pack has a strong foil paper that keeps the medicines safe until used.
When it’s time for medication, you push the tablet through blister foil to easily remove the pills.
These packs help retain the freshness of medicines and also meet the set hygiene standards.
Can you Recycle Medical Blister Packs?
Medicines like paracetamol, antibiotics, and ibuprofen come packed in blisters. These packs contain plastic materials strengthened with foil paper backing.
You can recycle medical packs if they’re empty.
However, the process can be tricky if you don’t follow the correct procedure or use apt technology. That’s because the plastic and foil materials can be difficult to separate.
However, you can easily separate the blister pack parts for an effortless recycling process.
All you need is patience and a little effort.
But you must first separate the parts made of plastic and foil materials.
If your blister packs have medicine or other products in them, collect and return them to the pharmacy for proper disposal.
So how do you recycle medical blister packs? You won’t recycle these packs unless you have specialized equipment.
What you can do, though, is to try to separate the parts for an effortless recycling process at a recycling plant or pharmacy.
Here’s how to facilitate easier recycling of medical blister packs at home:
Step 1: Separate the foil from the plastic
With most blister packs, separating the foil from the plastic materials is effortless. But be sure to have a few bits of foil that may remain on the plastic.
Consider soaking the pack in water to loosen the parts in such a case. Make sure you collect the bits in different containers, so none disappears.
Step 2: Cut the blister pack
Use your scissors to cut the plastic from the foil. You should remain with a pile of plastic pieces and un-separated plastic and foil pieces.
Step 3: Disposal and Recycling
Put the tiny plastic pieces from your blister pack in a trash bin for proper disposal. As for the foil pieces, you can:
- Place them in an empty container like a milk bottle to get recycled
- Squeeze the foil pieces into a fist-sized ball for recycling
Medicines like aspirin come either in foil or plastic packs. As such, they’re easier to sort and take to a blister recycling scheme.
But you can recycle the cardboard housing the blister packs at home. The box is recyclable, just like any paper insert.
Is It Bad To Handle Medical Blister Packs For Recycling?
In most cases, it’s not advisable to handle or recycle the medical blister packs by yourself. It can be dangerous as these packs may have toxic elements from medical tablets or other potentially hazardous products.
Besides, medical blister packs are tough to recycle as they contain a mixture of foil and plastic materials.
As such, they get treated as rigid plastic. This makes it tough to recycle in the same way as softer plastics.
They also have small sizes and can easily fall through the cracks of most standard recycling systems.
Some medical packs, such as those for inhalers, may contain toxic gases to the environment. So it won’t be wise to put them in your waste bin.
The technology for recycling these materials at home does not exist yet. That’s why you can’t throw these packs into regular recycling bins.
For these reasons, it’s advisable to take your blister packs to pharmacies for recycling.
The pharmacy you choose to take your medical packs should participate in the TerraCycle Medicine Packet Recycling Scheme. Be sure to find a participating pharmacy near you for recycling your medical blister packs.
In some countries like Australia, homeowners can earn rewards for collecting blister packs for recycling.
What is a Blister Pack Recycling Scheme?
It’s an environmental protection mechanism that helps recycle medical blister packs. This ensures that both the environment and humans are safe from the possible toxicity the packs may have.
Such schemes collect blister packs for recycling after checking the level of the contaminants to guarantee consumer safety.
The blister packs get collected and cut into small pieces to create a safely used packaging cycle. The pieces are then melted, placed in an injection molding machine, and used to form different products.
Some of the products that originate from recycling medical packs include;
- Flower pots
- Fencing boards
- Drainage pipes
- Ventilation grills your home’s heating/cooling system
Is there a Recycling Scheme for Medical Blister Packs?
Yes, a few product stewardship schemes exist to recycle medical blister packs. They include:
A medical blister pack is recyclable. But you need specialized technology and follow the proper recycling process.
Due to their possible health dangers and recycling complexity, it is advisable to take your medical blister packs to a recycling pharmacy.
Ensure the pharmacy participates in the TerraCycle Medicine Packet Recycling Programme.
That’s because these packs may have contaminants from medicines or other medical products. Therefore they may be harmful to human health and the environment.