What is PenCycle?
Woman using an insulin pen

Wanting to recycle insulin pens or Saxenda or Wegovy injector pens? If you’re a regular user of medical pens, whether they’re for diabetes or weight loss injections, the PenCycle scheme finally tackles the challenge of recycling your medical plastic waste.

Novo Nordisk has a pre-filled pen recycling initiative, a free service intended to reduce the number of pens sent to landfills and reuse the high-quality materials they’re made with.

Why use PenCycle?

Every year, 23 million medical pens are sent to landfill or incinerated in the UK due to the lack of a viable recycling alternative. Some of the materials used to make medical pens aren’t biodegradable, so they could stay in landfills for hundreds of years, and incinerating these materials uses a lot of energy while producing harmful gases.

Insulin pens and other types of pre-filled medical pens are made with high-quality, long-lasting materials. Sending these materials to landfills is not only harmful to the environment but also incredibly wasteful.

As a major supplier of pre-filled pens, Novo Nordisk is taking responsibility for its environmental impact with PenCycle. The initiative ensures that every returned pen is reclaimed and repurposed. So far, PenCycle has already seen recycled plastic made into new furniture and glass repurposed into lamps. 

Can insulin pens be recycled?

Up until the PenCycle scheme was introduced, it wasn’t possible to recycle used Saxenda (liraglutide) and Wegovy (semaglutide) injection pens, used insulin injection pens or similar. Medical plastic recycling is limited due to difficulties in sorting or cleaning. This means you can’t dispose of your medical pens in your normal household recycling bin.

By 2025, the number of people in the UK living with diabetes is estimated to rise to 5.3 million. Obesity is also on the rise, with 28% of the UK population now classed as obese. The PenCycle initiative is a groundbreaking step forward towards tackling the rising amount of medical plastic waste that comes with the rising need for diabetes and weight management treatment. 

How to use PenCycle

If you’re looking to recycle Novo Nordisk diabetes (insulin and GLP-1) or weight management pens (Saxenda and Wegovy), you can do this quickly and easily with us or any other participating community pharmacies.

For some Saxenda and Wegovy orders, we’ll automatically add your free PenCycle return box to your order. Alternatively, you can add the free box to any order or you can order free return boxes directly from Novo Nordisk here. Simply remove and safely dispose of the needles, pack your box with empty pens and send it back to us when it’s full. 

If you want to recycle growth hormone pens, you will need to use the Novo Nordisk home delivery service as these are controlled drugs.

Other medical devices, such as insulin vials, insulin pumps and pens from other companies, cannot currently be recycled as part of the PenCycle scheme. Only pre-filled Novo Nordisk pens can be returned in the supplied PenCycle return box. 

It’s hard to avoid single-use plastics in healthcare, especially if your life depends on it. PenCycle is a great way for people living with diabetes or those going through weight management treatment to take action against the harmful environmental impact of medical waste. 

It’s important we all do everything we can to reuse and recycle these valuable materials that would otherwise pollute our environment. If you’re a regular user of medical pens, make sure to claim your free PenCycle return box today so you can make a difference.

Faye Bonnell - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 04 June 2024
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