We all want to do our bit for the planet, but can we safely recycle diabetes supplies? Sharps need to be disposed of responsibly, no question, but there are ways to save other supplies from going into landfill.
Insulin pumps and other supplies including insulin are prescription products and should not be used by anyone without a valid prescription. You can donate unwanted insulin and supplies to Insulin for Life Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that collects and distributes insulin and other diabetes supplies that would otherwise be wasted. Visit insulinforlife.org.au to find out what they will accept and where your donated supplies will go.
Batteries from meters, pumps and CGMs can be recycled. Many supermarkets, local council offices and libraries have battery recycling bins – check which type of batteries they accept. Visit recyclingnearyou.com.au/batteries to find a location near you.
Hazardous material should always be disposed of in a biohazard or sharps container which meets Australian standards. This includes used needles, infusion sets, lancets, insulin containers, syringes, pump tubes and test strips. Sharps containers can be safely disposed of at public hospitals, participating pharmacies and community sharps disposal bins. Visit safesharps.org.au for locations.
Hard plastic that is not contaminated, such as packaging and test strip containers, may be recyclable, depending on your council guidelines. Check if there is a recycling symbol on the package. Soft plastics, like packaging, can be deposited in a REDcycle bin for recycling. Bins are located at most Woolworths and Coles stores – for a location near you, visitredcycle.net.au
Electronic waste like pumps and blood glucose meters can be placed in an e-waste recycling drop off point. Check your local council website for guidelines.
All those paper inserts that come with your medications, needles, CGM and pump supplies are recyclable in your household recycling bin, along with the boxes they are packaged in.
If you check the websites of suppliers of diabetes medications and supplies, you will find that they are aware of the environmental impact of the items they manufacture. But are they taking steps to reduce waste and introduce recycling programs? Check with your supplier to see if they offer a recycling program. If they don’t, you can always let them know that you would like one!