GM Sustainability

Novo Nordisk - PenCycle Recycling Initative

Community Pharmacy PenCycle recycling initiative launched in Greater Manchester

Novo Nordisk launches first-of-its-kind recycling initiative, PenCycle, to reduce plastic devices entering UK landfills by up to 1.1 million in the next year.

Greater Manchester Community Pharmacies have been selected as one of 3 pilot areas in the country to participate in this pilot to recycle insulin pens in partnership with Novo Nordisk,  Alliance Healthcare and other partners.

PenCycle is a circular recycling initiative for pre-filled Novo Nordisk pens used for diabetes and weight management treatments. They are asking pen users to return their empty pens so they can be recycled and given new purpose. 23 Million empty pens go to waste every year and this initiative will support environmental sustainability and reduce waste.

Greater Manchester Community Pharmacies have been selected as a pilot area to participate in this pilot to recycle insulin pens in partnership with the Novo Nordisk, Alliance Healthcare, NPA and other partners.

This is a ground-breaking, innovative pilot which will be presented at the UN Climate Change Conference next week which will include an update on Greater Manchester Community Pharmacy participation.

PenCycle will not only help reduce waste and advance the sustainability agenda of community pharmacy, it will also be supporting the transition of the UK health sector and helping achieve the NHS’ critical environmental targets.

The pilot initiative will launch initially across Greater Manchester, Leicestershire & Rutland, and Greater Glasgow and Clyde, ahead of a planned national roll-out next year.

Users of Novo Nordisk’s pre-filled FlexPen® and FlexTouch® devices, used to dispense insulin and other medications, will be able to recycle their empty pens as part of this initiative. This can be done through returning their pens via local participating community pharmacies. A welcome pack, materials and a returns box  will be provided free of charge by Alliance Healthcare who will also collect the returns box when full.

PenCycle: Progress update and Survey (May 2022)

As of May 2022, 228 Community Pharmacies in Greater Manchester have now joined PenCycle which is approximately 37% of all pharmacies across the area. It is estimated that by the end of the month a huge 2700 pens will be returned via pharmacies as part of the scheme! As a result of the scheme’s success, there are now plans to expand nationwide.

If you haven’t already signed up, you can do so here

If you are a pharmacist working within Greater Manchester, Novo Nordisk want to hear from you!

Ahead of a planned national roll-out a survey has been developed in order to capture valuable insights on the PenCycle initiative from ALL Community Pharmacists – whether you have already joined or made a conscious decision not to join.

Click here to complete the survey

PenCycle launch webinar

A webinar was held to announce the launch of PenCycle. If you missed the webinar you can register to watch it on demand. Click here to view the webinar

PenCycle is simple and completely free of charge. All materials needed to start patients recycling their used pens will be made available to you. It has been developed to work within your daily processes and systems to ensure minimal workload is needed.

To-date around 150 community pharmacies across Greater Manchester has joined the initiative.

This short video provides an introduction to the process.

If you haven’t already signed up, you can do so here.

Sign Up

Click here to sign up to the PenCycle Recycling Initiative

You will then receive a expression of interest letter from Alliance Healthcare by post, followed by a phone call to register your interest to join.​

Further information is available on the PenCycle Homepage


A range of resources have been published alongside the launch of the scheme. Please click the links below to view these:

Click here to download and view the animation


Primary Care Carbon Footprinting Pilot – Seeking Volunteers

NHS Greater Manchester are looking for a small number of community dental practices, pharmacies and optical practices to volunteer to have their premises carbon footprinted. There are numerous benefits to having premises carbon footprinted, including the potential for finding financial savings as well as identifying more environmentally sustainable options.


The aim of this project is to carbon footprint practices so that the carbon emissions from primary care as a whole can be more accurately calculated, and we are working with See Sustainability to do this. Carbon emissions can be split into clinical emissions and non-clinical emissions (i.e. from running the premises), and the pilot focusses on the latter.


In addition to achieving the ‘triple bottom line’ and improving practice’s green credentials, which is proven to be a factor in attracting new staff, this project also supports the wider national NHS Net Zero targets – more information available here.


There is no cost for practices to participate in the pilot, and they will receive a detailed report of their non-clinical carbon footprint from business services, travel, utilities etc, which can be used to plan and implement decarbonisation actions to help reduce their environmental impact in line with NHS and governmental targets, which may lead to financial savings (i.e. using less electricity). An anonymised summary report will also be produced for NHS Greater Manchester with no practice identifiable information.


The data extraction would be done on site by See Sustainability over the course of 1 day, and a small amount of preparatory work is required by the practice regarding staff travel, and patient travel where appropriate. Access would be needed to practice invoice folders; either paper or electronic records.


If your practice would be interested in taking part in this pilot, or if you would like further information, please contact Grace Marshall, Senior Net Zero Project Manager at NHS Greater Manchester.  Please do not reply to this email with regards to this pilot.




Inhalers, Environment & Community Pharmacy

The growing Climate & Ecological Crisis can at times seem overwhelming.  It is thus heartening that the NHS now has a Green Plan to help map out how we as organisations can help mitigate our impact.  A key area that NHS Greater Manchester is working on as part of its green plan, is inhalers.

Greater Manchester Clinical Lead, Dr David McKelvey has written a blog detailing the environmental impact of some inhalers, guidelines for greener inhaler prescribing, and how community pharmacy can play it’s part.


GM Greener Inhalers Campaign

This week, NHS GM is launching a greener inhalers campaign. It aims to raise awareness of the environmental impact of some inhalers and encourage more patients to make the change.

The launch is being marked with the release of a new video featuring patients talking about how and why they made the switch to a greener inhaler. You can watch it here:

You can help to increase the use of greener inhalers by:

  • Supporting the campaign on your website, social media channels and putting up posters. Downloadable resources include social media images and suggested text: click here to access.
  • Talking to patients about greener inhalers and supporting them to choose an inhaler that is best for them – and the environment.

Please see the attached campaign briefing for more information.

A range of further resources have also been developed and can be found below:

GMICP Green Inhaler Campaign – Digital Pack HCP

Inhalers campaign bulletin article

Inhalers Campaign Press Release v4

Inhalers campaign primary care bulletin article