Recycling & Reusing Packaging from D Stuff

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Recycling & Reusing Packaging from D Stuff

Postby Kate » Mon Feb 04, 2008 9:27 pm

Hi - It's been a few years or so since we had a brief discussion about this I think, and interested in current RCers views ....

I did a big clean up on the weekend and found I was running out of space in my "diabetes drawers" so cleaned them out and then opened a few boxes of strips and ditched the packaging .... then I changed a pump site (and a sensor site) and there was another bucketload of plastic and paper and packaging .... It really is quite insane the amount of junk my diabetes generates ....

Anyone else concerned, or have any tips about how to minimise it? It would appear from the products that i use regularly, that basically no thought has gone into minimising packaging, which is a shame.

Regards, Kate
Last edited by Kate on Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby martinab » Mon Feb 04, 2008 9:34 pm

Hi Kate,

I agree with you completely. I have an optium xceed and at the end of the day when I finally get rid of all the foily bits and strips I've accumulated in the case, I am always staggered at the amount of waste! A solution though? I'm not sure...
Type 1 for 27 years...and counting!
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Postby Kate » Mon Feb 04, 2008 9:38 pm

Hi Martin- Letter to the companies ? I'd be interested in their replies! Shall see if many more people share the concern to warrant any such efforts ...... Does anyone know if the packaging is genuinely recyclable? I doubt it; glossy paper and plastic mmm
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Postby Spike » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:21 am

well working for a recycling company

-Paper , you can recycle it gloss or not

-Plastics, looking at my pump bits and peices the packaging that comes with it and the stuf fmy vials come in..... No, would'nt bet my life on it but does'nt look good

-The foil strips from meters, yes it can be recycled but the equipment won't pick it up

-the canisters of strips can be recycled

The big wastes are the one time only pens i think they are a crime!!
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Postby Tara » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:33 am

This concerns me a lot and I actually think about it a lot ( I know i need to get a life!)

I do not use a pump but i think strips especially have the worst packaging, however i cannot think of another way to package them, apaprt from in those containers, but I do not like using the conatiners as they seem a bit vulnerable to dust and grime for my liking.

If wrapped in paper, i doubt they would be able to get that shrink effect and the box would be massive

Does anyone have any ideas???
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Postby Be11ydancer » Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:24 am

Spike wrote:
The big wastes are the one time only pens i think they are a crime!!


I used to think that too until I counted how many injections I got out of each pen. I then stacked the amount of syringes I would have used if I had have been injecting from a vial of insulin with the same capacity. There is no way that I would use the same syringe twice- putting a bacteria filled syringe into a sterile vial is a disaster waiting to happen for me (I have touchy skins and get subcutaneous infections easily). The stack of syringes was at least fifteen times bigger than the amount of plastic the pen and pen needles took up.

I wouldn't uses a reusable pen because they always smell after a week and I wonder about the bacteria harboured in those too. So by my accounting the disposable flex pens are not too environmentally disasterous. I use up a lot less plastic because of them.
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Postby Torie » Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:54 am

wouldn't uses a reusable pen because they always smell after a week and I wonder about the bacteria harboured in those too


What are you talking about? I have never had a smelly pen. If you change the needle on the end, there is no need for it to be smelly - exactly the same as the flex pen. I'm all for reusable novopens, then all you're disposing of is the little needle and the cartridge, not the whole wacking pen.

My foil strip packets do annoy me (i too don't want cannister ones becuse of the contamination factor), but it's the amount of rubbish i throw out each time i change a pump site that really concerns me. I was also thinking this morning that i'd like my site to be a separate part-separately packaged (recyclably!)-to my tubing and (as is now) reservoir, so that if you do screw up a site, it's only one small bit that you're changing, not the whole shebang...

Did anyone else get a few xceed strip packets for a while back that just had a rubber band around the wad of strips instead of the plastic wrap? thought that was a ncie change, but thinking now that it was just coz they'd run out of the others for a while, because they're back.
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Postby LongRidge » Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:04 am

The strips for the Roche Accu-chek come as 50's in a little plastic cannister unwrapped. The vials are slightly too big however - they could be made slightly smaller.
I've never had to use syringes or needles just once. The preservative in the insulin (phenol) is enough to keep the apparatus clean enough FOR ME at NZ temperatures.
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Postby artemis » Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:07 am

Torie wrote:I was also thinking this morning that i'd like my site to be a separate part-separately packaged (recyclably!)-to my tubing and (as is now) reservoir, so that if you do screw up a site, it's only one small bit that you're changing, not the whole shebang...


Torie, I use the Comfort sets that come with 5 complete lines/cannulas and 5 cannulas only. These however, are manual insertions. I re-use the lines to minimise waste.
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Postby Sean » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:09 am

When I have used meters with individually foil-wrapped strips, I take all the foil wrappers and jam them in an aluminium can, then crush the can. This way it gets picked up by recycling system, and yes there may be a little bit of plastic contamination (a lot of foil strips have a plastic coating) but I reckon it should come out in the melt process.

Now I have meters that involve little canisters (Accu Chek Integra and CareSense), I'm scratching my head as to a good re-use for them all. Some of them will get used for salt, sugar, & cocoa when camping....

Really the packaging that goes with diabetes (or anything else for that matter) should be designed to be recycled or accepted back by the company.

Maybe what we need is a system where we can take our own containers to a depot, and get a bunch of strips without packaging. You could include a little bit of silica gel in each container so moisture is controlled. I can see it now, press a little button and 100 strips fall out of the vending machine into the snazzy container of your choice....

: )

Cheers
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Postby Torie » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:52 am

I have the Paradigm 522. Can I get comfort sets that match???
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Postby artemis » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:00 pm

I think the Minimed Paradigm Silhouettes are the equivalent. They centainly have the 10 cannulae/5 line options. The NDSS numbers are 565 and 567, but you'd need to check this. Are your sets luer lock or paradigm specific? The ones I've quoted here are paradigm specific. Check out the NDSS pump consumables list.
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Postby Tara » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:07 pm

The plastic wrapper that wraps the Optium strips into bunches is totally useless in my opinion. Would anyone care if the strips were a bit untidy in the box??? I also agree that the disposable pens are a crime, and considering they are such a new invention (aren't they??) I can't believe that they were actually invented (when we are now all so aware of environmental issues)

Spike, what do you mean about the equipment not picking up the foil wrappers?

Working for a packaging company, I have learnt even the smallest change to a method / design of packaging can be quite expensive and impractical. More often then not the cost outweighs any advantage, sadly.
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Postby Catapult » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:27 pm

One good thing is that strips are getting smaller and smaller. In the 80s they were at least 8cm long and 6mm wide (the blood drop part was massive too). But nowadays the strip is plastic/cardboard with an electrode part running through it, so not so good.

I wonder if they could invent a plastic electrode part that was permanent sticking out the meter, and you attached a tiny part that receives the blood drop. Kind of like those toothbrushes at the Body Shop where you just change the head.

I don't know how to change the packaging for infusion sets. The flat pack ones (45 degree sets) take hardly any room but the QUick sets are massive. After a set change, I try to stuff all the used things into the same package and then wrap it all up tightly with the used tubing. So only a small pack to throw away. I doubt anyone would want to recycle the bits from used cannulae and tubing as it has had biological things in it.

I used to get smelly pens too but never changed the pen needle.
I used to reuse syringes over and over again too.

Lancets are also getting smaller than the ones in the old days. But I rarely change my lancet either. The first few years after diagnosis I had to soak my lancets in alcohol to 'sterilise' them as we didn't have a lot of spare money. The lancets would be blunt and inevitably covered in dust by the time the alcohol had evaporated - so not in the least bit sterile :-(

They have these one-use, disposable lancets which are nice and small but criminal as well given all the plastic on the exterior. I think they are in use by some hospitals and some ambos. Otherwise they have one pricker but the whole head as well as lancet gets changed. In the old days the hospitals had to reload just a lancet, and everyone got the same blood-splashed pricker head to share.

You should be able to reuse syringes and just change the needle section.

The foil wrappers on strips could be a lot smaller, like 1/2 the width they are now. In combination with a strip half the lengthy, you could reduce the foil to 25% of current size.

Cat.
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Postby Clare » Tue Feb 05, 2008 5:44 pm

It never occurred to me that I could recycle the canisters the strips come in! Doh! I assume I can't recycle the lids of the canisters, which have some kind of packet of drying agent built into them (for caresens anyway).
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Postby Tash » Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:05 pm

I work in childcare...so everything can be used again for me! *grins*...

Lines from pumps make excellent clear scoobies

Canisters from strips make brilliant stacking blocks... my autistic children sit for hours with the tub of them and build all sorts!

The clear plastic caps for the pens needles make brilliant craft material for 3D crafts... the last lot were glued and then sprayed silver for a part of our space project!

The little plastic covers for the quick sets (used when you disconnect)... are great for crafts too ( I never use them on myself)

The little blue plastic covers on the needle for the quick set are great for 3D crafts too.. I even collect the plastic caps on the plunger end of the syringes!
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Postby Kate » Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:29 pm

Wow - so many great ideas !!
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Postby Tony » Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:37 pm

I find the Blood Test Strip containers really useful to put small things in. I used to use the old 35mm film canisters.

As an example, I have a pierced ear. My collection of studs are in a Test Strip Canister. I used a Marker Pen and wrote "Studs" on the lable.

They're also good for holding medication (tablets). Enough for a weekend away without needing to take the whole supply.

Many other uses !
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Postby swanny » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:42 pm

This is seriously my biggest hang-up about having D. I HATE the amount of waste I'm creating. It is also one of the reasons I don't want a pump...

I have thought about writing a letter to supplies companies before, as I agree with Cat that the wrappers could be a hell of a lot smaller...wonder if they'd actually take notice though? Guess there's only one way to find out.

Sean - good idea bout putting the wrappers in a can. Will be doing that from now on.

Only thing I have been doing to reduce my waste is re-using the same syringe till I can no longer pierce the vial/skin or read the graduations!! Takes me ages to get through a box of syringes.
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Postby Mel » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:55 pm

This is seriously my biggest hang-up about having D


You've gotta be kidding. With all the waste our consumer society produces and all the frivolous reasons people fly on aeroplanes, drive cars and consume over packaged products, the couple of million or so type 1 diabetics in the developed world adding a tiny amount to the reserves of waste isn't going to make a jot of difference. If you give up air travel, give up owning a car, grow your own veggies, never eat meat and never buy frivoluos overpackaged stuff like processed food, cosmetics, disposable sanitary products etc etc then maybe you could worry about reducing the packaging (mostly it is to ensure hygiene and prove there hasn't been any tampering) on your d supplies.

Seriously peoples there are much more important things to worry about.

Oh and aren't horses bad for the Australian environment, wrecking it with their hooves and eating grass and hay which would be better left to natural vegetation and are they like cows producing all that methane?
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Postby Kate » Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:54 pm

As discussed in another thread, we will put Mel's crankiness here (partly) down to a high bsl - but I do have to agree that if this is your totally biggest issue with d then you aint got the same condition as me !

But that said, lots of valid concerns and issues methinks, so if it is a big issue, what are we going to do about it ???? Action, peoples, action !
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Postby swanny » Thu Feb 07, 2008 2:07 pm

Mel,

I am totally disgusted by your reply. And Kate, seriously - high bsl or not, Mel's response was way out of line - especially from a moderator.

Perhaps you should re-read my post out-loud and slow, and then you would see that all I was getting at was: the thing that annoys me most about MY diabetes is the extra waste I am contributing to this already ruined world. The random numbers, testing during the middle of the night and every other day-to-day things I experience, concerns me much less as I have less control over that stuff.

That is all I was saying.

I was not saying that my diabetes is somehow creating waste that is on par with processed foods, or is having a greater impact on the environment than the millions of animals being consumed worldwide everyday. All I was saying and I think it was pretty darn clear, is that the one thing that annoys ME most about living with this disease is the extra waste I am creating.

And why should I only be concerned about the waste this disease is contributing to the world after I have done everything else possible to reduce my waste/carbon emissions!??!!?! EVERY LITTLE PIECE COUNTS! You don't know the first thing about me or how I choose to live!! You don't know that I catch the bus to work and back home everyday. You also don't know that I only consume animals that we have raised on our own farm (same goes for a lot of the vegies I eat), and would never dream of eating seafood. You also don't know that I have never been overseas and have only flown domestically a handful of times. So I guess going off the way you think an environmentally responsible person should live, I could start to worry about the waste from diabetic supplies because quite clearly I have done more than most already to reduce my own waste/emissions.

Oh yes, horse are pretty bad for the Australian landscape. In National Parks. Not on ones own land where we regularly do a lot of pasture improvement, plant native grasses and trees to offset their methane emissions and use their manure to feed our worm farm which in turn uses the methane to create wonderful fertiliser for our vegie garden.

Perhaps before bashing someone elses thoughts again, you should get a little more background info on where they're coming from, like a good moderator would.
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Postby Mel » Thu Feb 07, 2008 3:44 pm

Swanny I sincerely apologise for causing offence, it wasn't meant to but I see how it did. I am used to heated debate over issues and I know some people aren't, but I was attacking the idea not you, it wasn't personal.

In context, and its no excuse but I'll offer it anyway I had some just had a discussion with somebody and then an email from somebody else about really major health issues and was feeling very frustrated that there is so little support for people with type 1 compared to so many other diseases and frankly, the triviality of the entire thread about waste did irritate me when some people are really doing it tough with retinopathy and kidney problems, eating disorders etc. Misplaced irritation I guess when the real issue is crap health care and crap advocacy for type 1s but I want everyone storming hte barricades about what upsets me I suppose.
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Postby Lyndal » Thu Feb 07, 2008 7:43 pm

Another good use for used lines is as plant ties. I put them to good use in the vege garden.

One of the reasons I won't buy the Cleo infusion sets put out for the Cozmo pump is because of the packaging.
http://www.msa.com.au/products_diabetes.html#insulin_infusion_sets_and_other_accessories

It comes with its own, one use, inserter which is thrown away each time. In comparison I much prefer my quicksets which uses the same inserter every time.
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Postby Kate » Thu Feb 07, 2008 9:34 pm

Geez, that is ridiculous Lyndal - I agree! Thanks for the link to show it.

Now if we could get the companies to spend less money on packaging and the transport costs also reduced when all our stuff wasnt so bulky to transport, and the money was put into support for people with crappy D stuff going on, then we would all be happy!
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Postby artemis » Tue May 20, 2008 1:02 pm

Okay, I'm reviving this thread because I just got told that 'these lines are mounting up, can't you get some ideas about what they can be used for?'. I know Tash uses hers in her job - would a pre-school or child care centre be able to use them? As I just got told, it's a wate of high tech resources - I agree. What can I do with them?
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Postby Kate » Tue May 20, 2008 6:54 pm

Soak in a bucket of disinfectant to remove the insuliny smell, chop of the 'inserted' bits, remove the sharp bits of course and a donation to yoru local child care centre? I wrote up some of this stuff for easy reference recently at www.d1.org.au/waste.htm
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Postby Lyle » Wed May 28, 2008 3:23 am

I think it's great that people are looking beyond their own medical issue and considering how much waste is being added to the stream with all the consumables our condition utilizes. I think it's good to talk about this stuff but more wag and less bark would be welcome.

Syringe caps and canisters are one thing but infusion sets are another altogether. Although I am sure the risk is low, if I was a non-D parent or worked at a day care, I sure as heck would not want the staff to use leftover medical waste tubing for toys and craft projects... egad!

What's next, pretend wrist watchs from old bandaids? Ick!

I agree, the generation of waste is considerable and having given up the pump, I'm glad to have lightened the load on the garbage train. As far as syringes and pens, I use the needly bits over and over. For Lantus pens that hold 300 units, I spurt an extra one-unit air shot to try to keep the tip clean after injecting and use the same tip until it's all gone.

Safety and sterility are terribly expensive and lead to the high costs both to us and the environment. Remember when we used to be able to buy Tylenol in easy little low-waste packages before some psycho tainted some with poison? Now, all meds are double and triple packaged to prevent tampering.

Slightly OT, if you can believe it, a Las Vegas endoscopy clinic was recently found to have reused syringes between patients!! leading to a Hep C outbreak, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24672562/ , now that is scary.
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