Blister packaging is commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry to package tablets, capsules, and other solid dosage forms.
However, there is growing concern about the environmental impact of blister packaging waste. Many people wonder if blister packaging can be recycled.
The answer is, it depends. Generally, blister packs can be recycled with other types of plastic, such as your typical grocery store plastic bags.
However, it is important to make sure that the blister packs are completely empty and free of any residual medication or other substances before recycling them.
This is because any leftover material can contaminate the recycling process and render the entire batch unusable.
Despite the recyclability of blister packaging, there are challenges associated with recycling it. For example, pharmaceutical blister packaging presents unique challenges for recycling due to its complex composition.
Blister packs typically consist of plastic (usually PET or PVC) and aluminum, which can be difficult to separate and recycle. Additionally, not all recycling facilities accept blister packaging, so it is important to check with your local recycling program to see if they accept it.
What is Blister Packaging?
Blister packaging is a type of packaging that is commonly used in the pharmaceutical, retail, and consumer goods industries.
It is a form of plastic packaging that consists of a cavity or pocket made of plastic, which is then sealed to a backing of paperboard, aluminum foil, or plastic sheeting.
The blister pack is typically designed to hold a single product, such as a tablet, capsule, or small item, and to provide protection, visibility, and tamper resistance.
Blister packaging is popular because it is an effective way to display and protect products while also providing important information to consumers.
The plastic blister can be made from a variety of materials, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is a type of plastic that is widely used in the packaging industry due to its durability, clarity, and recyclability.
PET is also lightweight and resistant to moisture, making it an ideal material for blister packaging.
Blister packaging can also be made from other materials, such as aluminum foil, which provides a barrier against light, moisture, and oxygen, and paperboard, which is a lightweight, biodegradable material that is used for backing cards.
However, some blister packs are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is a type of plastic that is not widely recycled and can be a contaminant to other plastics recycling.
In summary, blister packaging is a type of plastic packaging that is widely used in the pharmaceutical, retail, and consumer goods industries. It consists of a plastic cavity or pocket that is sealed to a backing of paperboard, aluminum foil, or plastic sheeting.
PET is a commonly used material for blister packaging due to its durability, clarity, and recyclability. However, blister packs made from PVC are not widely recycled and can be a contaminant to other plastics recycling.
Recycling Blister Packaging
Blister packaging is a common form of packaging used in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as for consumer goods such as chewing gum and contact lenses.
While it is convenient for packaging, it can be challenging to recycle due to its complex composition.
In this section, we will explore what types of blister packaging can be recycled, how to recycle blister packaging, and the challenges associated with recycling blister packaging.
What Types of Blister Packaging Can Be Recycled?
Unfortunately, not all types of blister packaging can be recycled. Most curbside recycling programs do not accept blister packaging due to its complex composition.
However, some specialized recycling programs do accept certain types of blister packaging.
For example, TerraCycle has a program that accepts contact lens blister packs, and the Alu-Alliance has a recycling program for Alu-Alu blister packaging.
How to Recycle Blister Packaging?
If you have blister packaging that can be recycled, it is essential to follow the proper recycling process. The first step is to check the resin identification code on the packaging.
This code indicates the type of plastic used in the packaging and can help you determine whether it can be recycled.
Once you have determined that your blister packaging can be recycled, you can either take it to a specialized recycling program or store it in a cardboard box and take it to a participating pharmacy. Pharmacies across Australia are accepting used blister packs for recycling by storing them in boxes.
Challenges in Recycling Blister Packaging
One of the main challenges in recycling blister packaging is its complex composition. Blister packaging is often made up of multiple layers of plastic, metal, and paperboard, making it difficult to separate and recycle.
Additionally, blister packaging is often coated with aluminum foil or other materials that are considered contaminants and cannot be easily separated.
Another challenge is the lack of infrastructure for recycling blister packaging.
Most curbside recycling programs do not accept blister packaging, and specialized recycling programs are not widely available. This means that most blister packaging ends up in landfills, where it can take hundreds of years to decompose.
In conclusion, while some types of blister packaging can be recycled, it can be challenging to do so due to its complex composition and lack of infrastructure for recycling.
As consumers, we can help by properly disposing of blister packaging and supporting efforts to develop more sustainable and recyclable packaging alternatives.
Alternatives to Blister Packaging
While blister packaging is widely used due to its barrier properties and ability to keep products safe during transportation, it is not always the most sustainable option.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to blister packaging that are more eco-friendly and can help reduce plastic waste.
One alternative is PET plastic, which is a strong and transparent material commonly used for soda bottles.
PET plastic is also recyclable, making it a more sustainable option compared to traditional blister packaging materials like PVC. Additionally, recycled PET (RPET) can be used to make new packaging, further reducing the amount of raw materials needed.
Another alternative is to use empty blister packs as a secondary packaging material. This approach can help reduce the carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions associated with blister packaging by reusing empty blister packs instead of creating new ones.
This can be especially useful in the pharmaceutical industry, where medicine packet recycling is becoming increasingly important.
Thermoforming is another process that can be used to create sustainable blister packaging. Thermoforming involves heating a sheet of plastic until it is pliable and then molding it into the desired shape. This process can be used with a variety of materials, including recycled plastic, to create eco-friendly blister packaging options.
Finally, some companies are exploring zero waste options for blister packaging. One approach is to use materials that are fully biodegradable or compostable, such as plant-based plastics.
While these options are not yet widely available, they have the potential to significantly reduce plastic waste and promote a more sustainable approach to packaging.
Overall, there are several alternatives to traditional blister packaging that are more sustainable and eco-friendly. By exploring these options, companies can reduce their environmental impact and promote a more circular economy.