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Plastic in one form or another is used to protect OTC products at almost every stage of the manufacturing and distribution process.
- Plastic bags may be used to move ingredients in bulk around a manufacturing site;
- Plastic film may be used to secure containers to pallets;
- Shrink-wrapped plastic may be used on packets which are ready for sale;
- Specially-designed types of plastic packaging, such as blister packs and bottles with safety lids, are used to contain OTC products in tablet and liquid form.
All of these uses of plastic help to uphold strict regulations preventing contamination, loss of quality or risk to patient safety during the manufacture, distribution, retail display and storage of OTC products.
PAGB and the consumer healthcare industry are fully supportive of policies designed to protect the environment and reduce pollution. Our members are working in many different ways to improve sustainability.
Much of the plastic used in the packaging of OTC products is not ‘single use’ in the same way as a takeaway coffee cup or a fast-food container. People who buy and use OTC products usually take them over a period of days or months.
It is important for consumers to retain packaging so they can refer to use and dosage instructions as well as any warning statements. We believe therefore that re-closable bottles, blister packs and dose measuring devices such as medicine spoons should not be categorised as ‘single-use’ plastics.
Where OTC products are packaged in single-use plastic, this is generally to meet safety and quality standards – as in the case of medical plasters, for example. Single-use packaging may also be designed specifically to allow consumers safely to take one dose or application of an OTC product, such as eye drops, while they are away from home.
It is vital that these and all other OTC products remain widely available to ensure people with self-treatable conditions can care for themselves safely and effectively, avoiding unnecessary strain on GP and A&E services.
Read our full position statement on single -use plastic.
Industry action on sustainability and the environment
The consumer healthcare industry is working at national and international level to improve sustainability and protect the environment.
PAGB is part of the AESGP, the membership organisation for OTC product manufacturers across Europe, which is driving efforts to tackle issues including microplastics and medicine disposal.
Our joint goal is to minimise the impact of medicines on the environment while safeguarding access to effective treatments for consumers.
The PAGB regulatory team is available to provide advice and information to our members. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Medicines and the plastic packaging tax
In March 2020, the UK Government confirmed its plan to introduce a tax on plastic packaging.