Inhaler Recycling in Pharmacies

Wakefield Council, Wakefield District Health and Care Partnership and Renewi are working together to explain why you should not throw your (or someone you care for) inhalers in your recycling or household waste.

In the UK, 12 million people have a chronic respiratory illness which require them to use inhalers. In 2022, the number of inhalers prescribed was 455,913 in Wakefield alone.

Unfortunately, many people do not know that you shouldn’t dispose of your inhaler in your regular household waste.   You should return inhalers to your local community pharmacy, they will ensure they are disposed of properly, lowering emissions.

A typical pressurised metered dose inhalers (pMDI) with 10g of propellant can have a carbon footprint of 13-33kg depending on the type of propellant. This is equivalent to driving an average car 45- 115 miles.

Why shouldn’t I throw my inhaler away?

The propellant used in pressurised metered dose inhalers, is safe to use but is a greenhouse gas that can contribute to climate change. Once an inhaler is finished or no longer needed, it can still have some propellant remaining in the canister. Inhalers in landfill are more harmful because the gases can be released into the atmosphere, but by ensuring they are disposed of correctly, we can work together to reduce carbon emissions.

What happens to my inhaler if I take it to a pharmacy?

If you return your inhaler(s) to your local community pharmacy, they can be disposed of in a more environmentally friendly way. The cannisters are incinerated at a temperature so high, the propellant becomes less harmful to the environment.

Find your local Pharmacy here: Find a pharmacy – NHS (www.nhs.uk)