GSK Malaysia is taking the lead in promoting responsible disposal of medical waste with the second phase of its nationwide #GiveBack campaign, launched in conjunction with World Environment Day. The campaign is a nationwide Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) effort to collect used, expired or unwanted asthma inhalers and medicine blister packaging for proper and safe disposal, and it features expanded partnerships that broaden its reach and increase the number of collection points for greater ease and participation.
Dr Jonathan Pan, Vice President & General Manager of GSK Malaysia & Brunei said, “As part of our commitment to global sustainability, GSK is dedicated to achieving net zero impact on climate and net positive impact on nature by 2030. Our #GiveBack campaign supports these goals by offering the Malaysian public a convenient way to dispose of their used inhalers and leftover medicine blister packs responsibly, lessening their impact to our environment. In June of last year, we started the pilot phase with our first campaign partner BIG Pharmacy and now with additional partner pharmacies and healthcare groups, we look forward to the expansion of this programme and participation of the Malaysian public in #GiveBack.”
Globally, healthcare systems contribute around 5.9 million tonnes of solid waste to landfills [i] and over 4% of carbon emissions[ii]. Among these are pressurised asthma inhalers which are often discarded before they are completely empty. The inhalers contain propellants which are greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Each inhaler releases greenhouse gases that can fill 300 balloons [iii] [iv], and when combined with any leftover medication, can combust or seep into the environment [v]. Therefore, proper disposal of these unwanted waste materials is crucial. Furthermore, blister packaging commonly used in medication storage contributes to landfill waste, and unfinished medications in these blister packs pose a danger of leaching into the ground or waterways. [vi]
Professor Amrahi Buang, President of the Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) said, “GSK’s #GiveBack campaign is aligned with the Ministry of Health Malaysia’s ‘Returning Medicines’ campaign, and we urge all Malaysians to support this effort by bringing their used or unfinished asthma inhalers and blister packs to any of the collection points for proper disposal. In our line of work, we need to balance the necessity of dispensing medication that is securely packaged while acknowledging its impact on the environment and doing what we can to reduce our carbon footprint.”
To further engage the public, GSK has creatively commissioned an art installation using discarded blister packs and asthma inhalers. The installation, designed by students from The Design School at Taylor’s University, highlights the importance of proper medical waste disposal and its impact on the environment while also providing an opportunity for the next generation to get involved in environmental advocacy. The installation will be displayed during the GSK #GiveBack Roving Truck roadshow at high-traffic venues across the Klang Valley, stoking greater awareness and increased interest in sustainability.
The #GiveBack campaign will continue accepting used or unwanted asthma inhalers and medicine blister packs at any of the GSK #GiveBack bins located in partner pharmacies and hospitals/clinics nationwide. During the Roving Truck roadshow from 17 – 26 June 2023, the public can also drop off their medical waste. For more information about the campaign, please visit your nearby pharmacy/hospital or log on to The Design School @ Taylor’s University’s Instagram (www.instagram.com/taylorsdesignschool). Let’s all join hands in supporting this campaign and contribute to a sustainable future.