How TerraCycle recycles blister packs

It’s hard to imagine how many blister packs one person will use during their lifetime.  Millions of people all over the world, including in Australia and New Zealand, throw out countless blister packs each week – whether it’s over-the-counter, prescription or even pet medication 

As leaders in innovative recycling, we have proven capabilities in recycling blister packs here at TerraCycle. Read on to discover why this waste stream is not kerbside recycling and to find out how we recycle them.

Why can’t blister packs go in kerbside recycling?

Empty blister packs can’t go in kerbside recycling because they’re made from a complex mix of metals and plastics. Most blister packs have a flexible plastic bottom and a thin metal foil over the top. When combined like this, it’s difficult for processors to extract the plastic from the metal. In order to recycle them, the two materials need to be separated, so that they can be broken down or melted into their individual material types.

One of the main reasons blister packs aren’t recycled in kerbside recycling comes down to cost. The price of the manual sortation and technology required to separate and process these materials is higher than the value of the end material. Your council recycling provider is just like any other business and needs to sell the end material to cover its costs. 

So what’s the solution?

This is where TerraCycle comes in. We have an expansive network of recycling partners with the capabilities and technology to sort and separate blister packs into their individual material types and recycle them into new useful items such as garden beds, watering cans or park benches. 

To fund the recycling process, TerraCycle has partnered with Chemist’s Own in Australia to trial a free in-store recycling program for any brand of blister packs via select Pharmacy Alliance pharmacies.

Where do I recycle blister packs with TerraCycle?

The Chemists’ Own® Blister Pack Recycling Program is the first ever brand-sponsored recycling program for empty blister packs in Australia. Currently, there are 50 Pharmacy Alliance pharmacies around Australia participating in the trial.

If you don’t live near a participating Pharmacy Alliance store, you can recycle your empty blister packs using the Empty Blister Pack Zero Waste Box that can be purchased online in Australia or New Zealand

Can’t afford one of our Zero Waste Boxes? You could encourage local businesses such as a pharmacy, an optometrist, a local library or a council to purchase one and recycle empty blister packs on behalf of the community. Or, you could buddy up with a friend or neighbours to split the cost.

Read more on the blog to understand why our national recycling programs are free while Zero Waste Boxes cost money.

Why can’t I mail blister packs to TerraCycle for free recycling?

TerraCycle runs many free mail-back recycling programs for other types of rubbish, but right now we don’t have a solution like this in place for blister packs in Australia or New Zealand. To be able to operate these programs at no cost to the public, we require brands to fund the shipping, sorting and processing of rubbish. While our programs are free to you, the consumer, someone always has to foot the recycling bill.

How does TerraCycle process blister packs?

Once collected, the empty blister packs are sent to TerraCycle where they are first checked in at our material recovery facility (MRF).  The blister packs are then manually sorted and visually inspected to check for any contamination. They are then broadly separated into plastic and aluminium and cleaned. 

The plastic is extruded into plastic pellets, and the aluminium is melted into new raw material, both of which can be used to make new recycled products

Where does TerraCycle process blister packs?

The sortation of blister packs occurs locally in Australia and New Zealand where the waste originated. TerraCycle will recycle the blister packs locally in Australia and New Zealand. 

4 thoughts

  1. Come on WA! Why are there no free deposit points around Perth? We are an aging population and generate lots of blister packs per household. What about it AMA and the Pharmacy Guild?


  2. Get the word out to ALL pharmacies throughout Australia and we may see some worthwhile results. If Coles can have a very active recycling programme, surely the Pharmacy Guild etc. can do it too.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s