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Case study: Waste Medicines and the Environment student public engagement project

Undergraduate pharmacy students from The University of Manchester have developed a project to raise awareness of the impact medical waste has on the environment, instruct the public on safe disposal of medicines and, ultimately, reduce the impact medicines have on the environment and biodiversity.

Currently, just 22% of people in the UK return unwanted medicines to a pharmacy, with 99% of drugs in landfill remaining in the environment indefinitely. Around £300 million is wasted on unwanted medication by the NHS each year.

Engaging Our Communities funding has allowed the Waste Medicines and the Environment project team to develop numerous community pharmacy events and promotional materials, including posters, stickers, bags, a website and a social media campaign.

These have been designed to inform the public about how to safely dispose of waste medicines and highlight the impact waste medicines have on the environment and biodiversity.

The students worked with a network of community pharmacies across Greater Manchester, educating the public on the environmental benefits of returning unused medications to the pharmacy while also reinforcing the message of the impact on the environment among students and staff at The University of Manchester.

The project was originally designed and set up by students Andrew Laitienfatt, Elin Turton, Memona Shahid, Emma Clayton, Emma Corn and Maeve Sparks, and is currently being undertaken by Sonam Kotecha, Georgie Groves, Shonali Lakhani and Emily Cope.

It will run throughout 2017/18. Sonam, Georgie, Shonali and Emily will evaluate the campaign's success as part of a dissertation project in 2018.

They comment: "So far, we have really enjoyed building the website and social media sites, and raising awareness among other students at the Faculty. The feedback we have received has been really positive and it is evident that our surveys have been thought-provoking.

"We hope that our social media support snowballs and that, ultimately, our efforts contribute to more environmentally-friendly medicine disposal behaviour among healthcare students and their future patients."

You can read more about the project on the Faculty student blog.

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