Pharmacy Industry working together towards better recycling practices

Pharmacy Industry working together towards better recycling practices

April 19, 2018

Representatives from 11 manufacturers in the pharmacy industry, all members of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, met this week to discuss the challenges and possible solutions to further closing the loop on recycling.

Organised and led by APCO (Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation) the round table discussion was the first in a series for the industry, with the aim of the day to understand the difficulties faced by these organisations in minimising and recycling the packaging created as part of their relevant businesses. APCO is a co-regulatory, not-for-profit organisation which partners with government and industry to reduce the long term impact of packaging on the Australian environment.

Brooke Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer at APCO commented, ‘This roundtable was the perfect forum to engage with our Members in the pharmaceutical sector and discuss the current challenges in the waste and recycling landscape, including regulatory restrictions on packaging design and the use of recycled content. The challenges are complex, however we were able to identify opportunities to work together and communicate more clearly with consumers.’

Held at Ego Pharmaceuticals’ brand new Headquarters and global distribution centre in Melbourne, the location was a fitting example of an organisation investing in and actively reducing their environmental impact; the new building designed with many innovative environmental solutions.

‘At the core of our business are our Ego Values, which include Ethics and Innovation. When designing our brand new Global Headquarters and Distribution centre we made sure that in producing high quality skincare products for the world we are making minimal environmental impact by using incredibly clever design. Solar panels power the building and we use low-energy sensor lights. The entire 9,000 pallet capacity warehouse is temperature controlled without the use of air conditioning,’ said Ego Pharmaceuticals MD Alan Oppenheim.

‘The building faces west, so we had to balance heat and glare control. The whole design of the facade of the building leans forwards to create shadow for lower floors, we designed vertical wings to further reduce sun load, upper floors have only half height glass and windows are double glazed. We are always striving to innovate and minimise our environmental footprint.’

Previous projects facilitated by APCO have resulted in a range of solutions, with industry shifts and tangible improvements for recycling and waste reduction, including contributions to government policy development. Utilising shared knowledge within the industry and looking at overseas case studies, the meeting hopes to help the whole industry progress its efforts.

In 2016 GT Recycling, in conjunction with APCO & Sustainability Victoria created an outlet for flexible polypropylene packaging, and established a sustainable raw material supply stream, recycling flexible plastic waste that would otherwise go straight to landfill.

Working in partnership with Closed Loop and APCO, KFC introduced a Closed Loop Recycling Program in 2012, which is the first ‘Public Place Recycling Program’ of its kind in the QSR Industry. This is a holistic approach to waste management, ensuring maximum recovery rates of recyclables, and in the first year alone enabled 2043 tonnes of cardboard and commingle to be diverted from landfill.

Manufacturers represented at the round table included Ego Pharmaceuticals, CSL, Blackmores and Apotex, as well as the Project Manager of the Australian Return Unwanted Medicines project.

It was also agreed that the sector should support clear and targeted communication to help consumers understand how to deal with unwanted medicines and packaging. One initiative that could support this was the Return of Unwanted Medcines (RUM) program, which could be built on to communicate appropriate recycling behaviour to pharmacists and consumers alike. APCO highlighted that this could be done in tandem with their Packaging Recycling Label Program to ensure communications are consistent nationally.