April 24, 2017

Every year Americans fill an estimated four billion prescriptions and buy even more over-the-counter medications. But we all know that the problem with recycling prescription bottles is that most curbside programs don’t accept them, which is why many communities have prescription bottle recycling programs in place. But what about stock bottles (the containers medications arrive in, before they are separated and prescribed to patients)? The solution might be easier than you think. 

Because pharmacies generate an abundant supply of clean, white High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) that often goes straight into the waste stream, The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) recently developed new pharmacy guidelines for Recycling Grocery Rigid Plastic. These guidelines not only call for pharmacies to separate the recyclable waste into paper and plastic, but to go one step further to separate the lids from stock bottles as well. 

In an interview with *Plastics News, APR’s rigid plastics recycling director, Liz Bedard, commented about the guidelines recommended to pharmacies. 

“If they want to get the highest and best value for their rigid plastics, segregating the Polypropylene (PP) from the HDPE is a good way of doing that, by separating out the PP caps. And our recommendation would be recycling them with other PP rigids that might be coming out of bakery or deli,” Bedard said. 

While encouraging pharmacies to recycle “back-of-the-house” plastics is a good step in the right direction, often times much like nurses in the operating room, it is likely that many pharmacy staff won’t take the extra time to separate these recyclable materials. 

This is precisely why we developed our TEQethylene™ sterile barrier system which utilizes a new, proprietary blend of HDPE in combination with Tyvek for a recylable SBS solution. 

Core to this solution was selecting Tyvek® (a commonly used breathable HDPE thermoplastic lidding) to create a mono-polymer sterile barrier system, with no need to dissemble lid from the tray for recycling. Furthermore, we ensured that the lidding stock adhesive, while not HDPE based, would have a negligible effect on the recyclability of the finished product. And thus, TEQethylene was created. 

The result is a 100% recyclable sterile barrier solution which means that doctors and nurses don’t need to separate lids from trays in the operating or emergency room. Plus, any TEQethylene tray with pre-filled syringes in it will be accepted in most recycling programs and can be recycled either at the pharmacy or at home in their curb-side pick-up. 

What about you? Have you made recycling updates to ensure you’re becoming more sustainable? 

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