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Dr Cara Augustenborg, Environmental Scientist and broadcaster, recently launched the first national respiratory inhaler recycling initiative on behalf of Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland. The launch took place at O’Connor’s Pharmacy, Dublin 4, and is part of a nationwide pilot scheme which aims to encourage people living with respiratory-related illnesses to recycle their used or out-of-date inhalers.
There are an estimated 560,000 people in Ireland currently living with a respiratory-related illness and in 2019 alone, 4.4 million inhalers were used, which is a rising number compared to previous years. Previously, no free public recycling facility has been made available to dispose of used inhalers in Ireland.

Currently, in Ireland, people living with respiratory-related illnesses are encouraged to return their used inhalers to their local pharmacy, where they are then disposed of with other medical waste through incineration. However, it is unclear how many Irish consumers dispose of their inhalers correctly. 

When inhalers are sent to landfill, it is harmful to the environment both in plastic material waste and in greenhouse gas emissions, as the residual gas from canisters may be released to the atmosphere.
Teva has partnered with global recycling group TerraCycle to bring its ‘Zero Waste Box’ scheme to 100 Irish pharmacies across Ireland in a 12-month recycling pilot scheme. 

The Zero Waste Box is a cardboard box that collects and stores used inhalers until they are collected by TerraCycle and then recycled to help make new products, including playground materials and garden equipment. The Zero Waste Box can be used by pharmacy users when they are collecting prescriptions or a new inhaler, making it convenient for their lifestyle.

People living with respiratory-related illnesses can find out where their nearest participating pharmacy is located by visiting

Teva is the first in the Irish pharmaceutical industry to take this step in playing an active role in addressing the recycling of inhalers and providing people living with respiratory-related illnesses with environmentally-sustainable treatment.
Teva’s campaign to raise awareness of the initiative includes support from the Asthma Society of Ireland, representing the 380,000 people with asthma in Ireland, and people who live with asthma and COPD. The aim of their support is to highlight the importance of this scheme and to encourage people across Ireland to support it. 

Dr Augustenborg commented: “Environmental consciousness and innovation have a crucial role to play in our drive to manage and eliminate plastic waste in Ireland. This initiative, launched by Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland, will be welcomed by people living with asthma, COPD and other respiratory conditions who are looking to the industry leaders to adopt more sustainable practises. Working collaboratively with pharmacies, Teva wants to play a powerful role in reducing this plastic waste and in providing a wider leadership role in the pharma sector to promote greater sustainability and green initiatives”.