Innovate UK scheme sees pharma group team up with SME to create greener inhalers

Pharmaceutical group Chiesi UK

Pharmaceutical group Chiesi has teamed up with two SMEs through an Innovate UK funding initiative to encourage research into inhaler sustainability.

Around 75 million inhalers are prescribed in the UK every year and they have come under the sustainability spotlight due to their high carbon footprint.

Chiesi is now working with SMEs to improve sustainability of respiratory inhaler devices.

The award from Innovate UK resulted from their ‘Designing sustainable plastic solutions’ competition.

The winning proposal came from ‘tech for good’ companies, Reply and Dsposal, who are researching ways to minimise or eliminate the use of plastic in pressurised metered dose inhalers (pMDI) through a potential redesign of the plastic ‘actuator’.

Harriet Lewis, head of public affairs at Chiesi UK, said: “At Chiesi, we believe protecting patient health and the environment should not be a matter of compromise.

“To this end, we have invested considerable time and resource in accelerating the development of carbon minimal technologies to treat respiratory conditions, as well as empowering patients to dispose of their inhalers in an environmentally safe manner.

“Initiating activity to scope alternatives to the current plastic use for all our inhalers is overdue and the start of an important journey for us and the wider pharmaceuticals sector.

“As a B Corp certified company, we take our environmental responsibility very seriously and are committed to playing our part in reducing the environmental impact of inhalers.

“Being part of this research is a critical first step for us and aligns with our broader B Corp commitments of using our business as a force for good.”

Asthma Inhaler Credit_ NIAID _ NIAID _ Flickr

, said: “Millions of people rely on inhalers but currently they are a ‘throwaway’ item. Using our extensive human centred design experience to redesign the actuator so that it can be more environmentally friendly is the primary aim of this project.

“Winning this funding and support from Innovate UK is a huge opportunity for both us and Dsposal. Global inhaler use is on the rise and we need to find ways to minimise their impact for a greener future.”

 Supporting this ‘Designing sustainable plastic solutions’ initiative is one of the many sustainability projects being undertaken by Chiesi.

It is part of the company’s commitment towards a sustainable future including accelerating the development of environmentally friendly inhalers and its pledge to become carbon neutral by 2035.

Earlier this year, Chiesi also launched the first of its kind postal-based inhaler recycling scheme in the Leicestershire area.

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