Inhalers: Recyclable or Trash

Day 125 – Today is World Asthma Day. This year’s theme is “Uncovering Asthma Misconceptions”. One of those misconceptions is that asthma is a childhood disease and that individuals will grow out of it as they age. Well, I am proof that this is untrue. I was recently diagnosed as being asthmatic at 48 years old. I had never experienced symptoms as a child or at anytime during my adulthood. It was only in the last couple years did I start having an issue. I was prescribed an inhaler and my first thought was, “How do I recycle this?”, better yet, “Can I recycle this?”

There are numerous reasons why you would want to properly dispose of your inhaler.

  1. Old inhalers can explode if punctured, compacted, or heated too much.
  2. When broken open inhalers can release greenhouse gases. According to recent studies, inhaler-related greenhouse gases are responsible for roughly 5 million tons of CO2 emissions.
  3. Many inhalers that are disposed still have medication left in them. If these inhalers end up in a landfill the leftover medication can leak out and as a result contaminate land and water.
  4. The plastic and metal that make up the inhaler are recyclable material.

In many cases you can contact your local pharmacy or recycling facility to see if there are any types of take-back programs for inhalers. With inhaler recycling programs patients are able to bring in their empty inhalers to their local pharmacies and exchange them for a new one. From there the old inhalers are collected by a partner recycling provider who then breaks down the inhaler plastics for remanufacturing and safely captures any remaining aerosol medication. 

Always make sure to responsibly dispose your inhalers.

Tomorrow, coffee that is fo the birds.

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