Reducing Medicine waste by returning unused medicines to pharmacy

Rachel McLean
Rachel McLean • 19 December 2023

Project completed as part of the Hampshire Hospitals Green Team Competition 2023.

Aim: To reduce waste by moving patients medication with them and returning unused medication in a timely manner so it can be reused (not disposed of)


Over our month trial, medications to an increased value of £6,942 were returned for re-dispensing across the 8 trial wards. This is a saving of 2,360.28 kgCO2e, equivalent to 6,970 miles driven in an average car. Projected across a year, assuming similar amounts of medication returns, £83,304 and 26,487.6 kgCO2e could be saved. Waste disposal would account for an additional £324 and 384 kgCO2e.

With increased medication return and reduced waste disposal combined, our total anticipated annual savings across the 8 wards are £83,628 and 28,323.36 kgCO2e, equivalent to driving 83,648 miles in an average car.

With 45 wards across Hampshire Hospitals who all require medications, savings would be significantly higher if the pilot was rolled out Trust wide. For example, applying a conservative 50% of our savings to all wards, the Trust could achieve annual savings of £234,292 and 79.6 Tonnes CO2e.

Socially, the project increased awareness amongst ward teams of how Pharmacy works and that we can be an integral part of the ward team to support patients and medication education.  The team became recognised on the wards they were covering due to their increased regular presence on the wards, and were asked to support in other ways which improved working relationships.

The Pharmacy stores team felt more supported as they were being helped to manage the returns which are often left to build up. 

Resource author(s)
Claire Williams, Deputy Clinical Pharmacy Manager and Louise Bond, Deputy Lead Medicines Management Technician
Resource publishing organisation(s) or journal
Hampshire Hospitals NHS FT
Resource publication date
November 2023

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