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National Pharmacies more than doubles pharmaceutical waste recycling targets.

National Pharmacies has diverted 3.2 million empty medicine blister packs from landfill, more than doubling recycling targets set when the innovative program was launched one year ago.

The success of the recycling initiative comes as Optical by National Pharmacies today launched an Australian-first trial involving 10 of its optical stores to recycle contact lens waste.

This time last year, National Pharmacies partnered with Pharmacycle, with support from Viatris, aiming to collect 1.4 million medicine blister packs for recycling in the first year of operation.

Latest Pharmacycle data shows more than double that amount has been collected and 4.7 tonnes of plastic and aluminium has been recycled into building materials. There are currently 44 National Pharmacies pharmacies collecting empty medicine blister packs in SA, News South Wales and Victoria.

Now partnering with Opticycle, ten Optical by National Pharmacies stores in South Australia will be the first in the nation participating in of trial aiming to divert about 230,000 empty disposable contact lens blister cases from landfill over the next six months.

Opticycle will separate the contact lens cases into plastic and aluminium for repurposing into building products, including plastic fence posts and plastic wheel stops, and in the production of steel.

Disposable contact lens blister cases cannot currently be recycled through kerbside waste collection.

Data from Opticycle estimates between 250 to 500 million disposable contact lens cases are discarded each year by Australian consumers, with daily, single-use plastic lens cases making up the largest portion of that waste.

National Pharmacies CEO Vito Borrello said members and customers’ support for the recycling of medicine blister packs through National Pharmacies pharmacies had been overwhelming and one of the main motivating factors for expanding into optical waste recycling. 

“Building on the success of our existing recycling efforts throughout our pharmacies, Optical by  National Pharmacies will be the first in Australia to launch this initiative,” said Mr Borrello.

“We are proud to be partnering with Opticycle on such a great initiative as we continue to expand our recycling efforts across our optical and pharmacy stores with the encouragement of our members and customers,” he said.

Opticycle Business Development Manager Jason Rijnbeek said Opticycle was the only full recycling solution for contact lens waste in Australia.

“We hope that more partnerships like these will divert many more tonnes of unnecessary plastic and aluminium waste from the environment to make new products as demand for single-use contact lenses across Australia is expected to grow.”

Customers can deposit empty disposable contact lens blister pack cases at these participating stores: