Unopened, unused and out-of-date medicines can be returned to pharmacies for disposal. Once medicines have left the pharmacy, they cannot be recycled or re-used by anyone else. Inhalers are recyclable though at participating pharmacies.

Wasted or unused medicine is a serious and growing problem within the NHS that you can help tackle. It is estimated that as much as £300million is wasted every year in the UK on unused or partially used medication which cannot be recycled or re-used. A campaign called Only Order What You Need, working with the NHS, asks people to think carefully before ordering repeat prescriptions.

How can I get rid of them?

Return to a pharmacy or chemist for safe disposal;
Do not flush medicines down the toilet.

Inhalers – did you know?

Inhalers can be recycled at participating pharmacies. For more information or to find your nearest pharmacy or visit Complete the cycle.

  • Approximately 73 million inhalers are used in the UK every year;*
  • Landfill disposal of inhalers is harmful to the environment both in material waste and in greenhouse gas emissions should the gas canisters become pierced or crushed and the propellant released;
  • If every inhaler-user in the UK returned all their inhalers for one year, this would save 512,330 tonnes of CO2eq – the same as a VW Golf car being driven around the world 88,606 times.*

*GSK data on file. UK Inhaler recycling & environmental claims July 12