How can I reuse or recycle medical supplies/packaging?

We’ve had an email from friend of Recycle This and frequent commenter Bobbie:

I’m attaching a photo of a medication shipment I get every 3 months. The medicine has to be refrigerated and so that in itself creates all this waste. Please ignore the bookmark though, it is used to cover some private information. The syringe does not have ml markings on it, so I can’t use it for other things that have to be measured.

Of course, I want to know everyone’s idea(s) of how I can repurpose all this packaging into something useable. I already use the styrofoam boxes for other things and given many away, but frankly the size inside is pretty small 6″Wx8″Lx6″D (about 15cmWx20cm Lx15cmD) and can’t hold anything but tiny bottled drinks. I have used it as a lunch pail though.

Many creative people read your blog and I can’t wait for their ideas to pour in. I really like the useful ideas. Thank you very much and hugs to you for all the wonderful posts.

(Click on the picture to see a bigger version.)

My first idea for the styrofoam was a mini-cool box for picnics but it sounds like they might be too small to be much good for that — and how many of those would you need anyway? Any other suggestions?

A syringe could be used for refilling hand cream/moisturiser tubes from bigger tubes (as we discussed here) or tabasco sauce bottles – but again, you’d only need one or two for that – so what can be done with the rest?

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18 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle medical supplies/packaging?”

  1. kitschkitty says:

    Polystyrene/ Styrofoam can be broken into bits to use as crocks in the bottom of planters/large plant pots – especially good if you have a balcony garden as it reduces the wight of the planters (soil is heavy)!

    There are building techniques that use Polystyrene/ Styrofoam filled with concrete to build whole houses. I’m sure you could make your own “bricks” to build things in the garden like raised beds, or a small retaining wall, that kind of thing.

    Syringes can be used for feeding baby animals or giving meds to animals, the lack of ml measures need not be a problem.

    If they are a fairly small and light they would make an excellent portable ice bucket, for picnics!

    As well as keeping cans or cartons of drinks cold, they could keep things like jacket potatos and other food (wrapped in foil) hot.

  2. Sara says:

    You could use the syringe to water fragile seedlings, but you’d probably only need one…

  3. Bobbie says:

    Keep ‘em coming, love every idea!

  4. Lynette says:

    I also receive between 3-5 of these containers a month. I send them home with folks who fish, to keep their bait in. Also, the plastic containers that come around pap smear bottle containers make wonderful advent calendars (25 holes), bead sorting flats (one side has 25 holes about 1/4 inch deep, the other has 25 holes about 3/4in deep), and palates for paint mixing and/or holding different color paints for the under 13 yr old crowd to avoid waste. The syringe can be used for irrigation of wounds (studies show tap water is as effective at preventing infection as sterile water or saline) so is useful for placing in first aid kits.

  5. I have a polystyrene box (similar to the one shown above – but mine was for delivery of a haggis in America!!!) and I use it when we move house to protect precious ceramics.

  6. Clare says:

    I would punch a few drainage holes in the bottom of that polystyrene box and use it as a seed tray. You could even break up the lid and use it as crocks.

    A few polystyrene boxes are useful to have around when you are defrosting the freezer.

    A syringe might be a good water toy for a child (although perhaps it’s best not to encourage children to play with medical waste).

    And the poly box might be fun in the sandpit, for making castles and so on.

    I’d be interested to know what the company that supplies you said when you asked them for advice disposing of their packaging responsibly.

  7. Give them to someone who needs to ship something cold! I donated breastmilk, and these coolers are AWESOME for shipping it to a baby in need!

  8. Bobbie says:

    Great idea, samantha One of my Facebook friends suggested donating to nearby university to transport reptiles. I love these kinds of reuse ideas which really do reuse it without any repurposing.

  9. amanda says:

    I’m so glad you posted this! i get the same medicine and same packaging and i hate discarding the styrofoam.. Thanks so much!

  10. Lindy says:

    If the syringes are food safe and large enough, then they are excellent for things like injecting cakes with liquors or other flavoring solutions. I doubt your syringes are large enough to fill popovers.

  11. stella says:

    I used the styrofoam boxes to mail Nancy Drew books that I sold on ebay! they are light , sturdy and I believe I covered them with brown wrapping.

  12. emo says:

    they are really greate

  13. Tim Cawood says:

    I am actually currently trying to find out how to get hold of as many of those small boxes as possible and would happily pay 50p – £1 each for them. I am building a business promoting the responsible shipping of reptiles! Get in touch if you would be interested, only looking for a few to start with but potentially could get through a lot and would love to ensure it was giving a lease of life to what would otherwise be waste!

  14. Cindy says:

    I do a lot of craft and beadwork. The syringes would be perfect for glue, when you only neeed a tiny drop for a tiny bead. also, they could be great for paint when crafting. the more syringes, the more colors on hand!

  15. Bobbie says:

    Wonderful idea, Cindy. Lots of times I need to glue a very small thing and can use this idea. Thanks!

  16. caren baker says:

    I get the same every month for medicine…is there a way to mail them back for reuse? one notch up from recycle…I use to give them to UPS for reuse but they do not want them anymore…other ideas?

  17. Marinka says:

    Turn into lunch box, will keep food cold or hot.

  18. Every use of that polystyrene cool box is helpful, whether is for food or medical storage, the thing of that product is that is also very resistant, amazing.

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