As many as 260 pharmacies across England and Scotland now recycle injection pens as part of a new green scheme.  

Novo Nordisk launched the recycling scheme in pharmacies across the UK in November to help reduce the number of plastic injection pen devices ending up in landfills

The scheme, named PenCycle, is being piloted in pharmacies in Greater Manchester, Leicestershire and Rutland, and Greater Glasgow and Clyde, ahead of plans to roll it out nationally later this year.  

The scheme allows patients to return their empty FlexPen and FlexTouch devices — used to dispense insulin and other medications — for recycling through local participating community pharmacies, pre-paid Royal Mailboxes or through a local collection service.  

Novo Nordisk told The Pharmacist that as of today (1 March) the scheme has 260 community pharmacies across the pilot regions signed up.  

Glasgow is currently leading the way, with more than a third of all community pharmacies in the area participating already,’ he said.  

Novo Nordisk could not confirm how many pens had been recycled through the scheme so far due to the ‘time lag’ the recycling process causes.  

However, they said they hoped this data would be available to share ‘in the coming months’. 

When announcing the scheme, Novo Nordisk said it aims to recycle over 150,000 prefilled pens, which it said would ensure more than 2 tonnes of plastic material avoids UK landfills. 

Pinder Sahota, general manager UK, Novo Nordisk said: ‘Our PenCycle pilot programmes across Greater Manchester, Leicestershire & Rutland and Greater Glasgow & Clyde, have seen amazing engagement and we’re excited to see the availability increase as we get more pharmacies on board in these areas.  

‘Pilot programmes like these are such an important step in our ambition to have zero environmental impact,’ she added.  

In February, pharmaceutical company Chiesi, launched a new pilot scheme that enabled patients to dispose of and recycle their inhalers through the post. 

This came after the Primary Care Respiratory Society (PCRS), published a white paper late last year, calling for better processes and information on how and where to recycle, safely dispose and return inhalers to help ‘reduce landfill, wasted medication and release of harmful propellants and gases’. 

Last week, The Pharmacist spoke to pharmacists from Pharmacy Declares, who called for the sector to focus more on clinical services than recycling if they want to save the planet.