Partnership for circular insulin pens - (TM)

A first step towards circularity for medical waste?


In 2019, the citizens in Copenhagen returned 90 tons of clinical waste to the city's 37 pharmacies. For many years, clinical waste has been collected this way and used as feedstock for production of electricity and heat in an environmentally safe and healthy manner at the city's waste incineration plants.

Clinical waste must be treated with extra care and has its own set of regulations, e.g. for transportation and safe disposal. This makes it a lot more complex to collect and prepare for recycling than other waste streams. However, parts of the clinical waste generated by ordinary citizens, e.g. used medical devices, represent a substantial recycling potential that could boost the circular economy and limit the negative environmental impact from plastic waste incineration and production of virgin raw materials.

In order to start the transition towards a circular system for medical devices, Novo Nordisk is the main driver behind a new, Danish partnership, which include logistics companies, relevant associations, and more than 60 pharmacies in Copenhagen, Aarhus, and Kolding. From 1. December 2020, the partnership will test a pilot take-back scheme for insulin pens for a test period of six months. At the same time, a state-of-the-art treatment plant for used insulin pens and production scrap is planned to open by the summer of 2021 in the vicinity of Copenhagen.

Although, the initial focus of the partnership is on insulin pens, the long term the vision is to create a comprehensive solution that can handle different types of medical waste. A user-friendly solution that makes it easy to think green.

Partners for this project include: Novo Nordisk, Apotekerforeningen, The Danish Diabetes Association, Type1, LIF, Nomeco, TMJ, Steno Diabetes Center, PostNord, DHL, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, and the Cities of Copenhagen, Aarhus and Kolding.

Read more at the partnership website: