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How One Pharmacy Is Using Biodegradable Vials to Go Green

How One Pharmacy Is Using Biodegradable Vials to Go Green by Elements magazine |

December 14, 2017

Most patients throw away everything they receive from a pharmacy. From the paper bag holding the prescription to the vial housing their medication.

One pharmacy is trying to make the business of filling prescriptions more earth-friendly. One prescription vial at a time.

Since March 2017, Rivergate Pharmacy & Compounding Center, an independent community pharmacy located in Durango, Colo., has dispensed prescriptions in biodegradable vials. “Our patients love them. We even have new customers who transferred in because of these vials,” said Lori Kearney, R.Ph., owner and pharmacy manager of Rivergate Pharmacy.

Earth-friendly containers

The pharmacy purchases the biodegradable vials from Pharmacy-Lite Prescription Packaging, a manufacturer of vials and packaging for pharmacies. “Traditional prescription vials are not designed to biodegrade,” Kearney said.

The non-toxic and BPA-free plastic vials contain an organic biodegrading additive called ENSO. Kearney learned about the science behind the vials from a representative with Pharmacy-Lite Prescription Packaging.

“These plastics have been designed for their physical properties, strength and durability,” Kearney said. “Most plastics contain primarily carbon atoms linked into long chains. Although carbon is a great nutrient source for microorganisms, the long chains make it difficult for microorganisms to metabolize them. Biodegradation of these plastics can be accelerated through the use of the ENSO technology.”

Finding ways to go green

Kearney originally saw the biodegradable vials at a pharmacy conference, but didn’t think the pharmacy could afford them.

“I saw them again at the beginning of this year and started asking questions,” she said. “When I realized we were looking at pennies difference and not hundreds of dollars, I ordered some and took it back to our team to get their input. They loved them.”

And patients did too. “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback in the pharmacy as well as on social media,” she said.

The pharmacy also tries to keep the environment in mind every day. Recycling bins in the pharmacy include paper, plastics, glass and cardboard. “We recycle whenever we can,” Kearney said.


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