Plastics and the environment

img
Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Plastic in one form or another is used to protect OTC products at almost every stage of the manufacturing and distribution process.

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’s position

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 regulatory@pagb.co.uk for more information.

UK Government proposals for a plastic packaging tax

In March 2020, the UK Government confirmed its plan to introduce a tax on single-use plastic packaging.

Palace of Westminster

The measure, which is due to come into effect from April 2022, will impose a £200-per-tonne levy on any plastic packaging which contains less than 30% recycled material.

The tax is part of an overall strategy aimed at reducing and ultimately eliminating avoidable plastic waste, in order to cut pollution and protect the environment.

The Government is seeking the views of affected industries. A consultation on the Plastic Packaging Tax was launched by HMRC (closing August 20 – extended because of the coronavirus pandemic).

What are the implications for self care if OTC products are included in a single-use plastic packaging tax?

Plastic is used throughout the manufacture, distribution, storage and sale of over-the-counter medicines and medical devices.

The plastic packaging tax as proposed by the Government would impact the industry’s regulatory requirements and its operational capacity, with potentially detrimental effects on the millions of people who rely on the safe availability of OTC products to care for themselves and their families.

PAGB has been working with regulators and other trade associations to recommend an alternative approach that will ensure continuing consumer access to safe, effective OTC products.

On behalf of our members, we have attended meetings with representatives from HMRC to set out the consequences of subjecting OTC medicines packaging to the plastics tax and to discuss the way forward.

 

Back to Policy home