Recycling Waste from Blister Packaging

The use of capsulized herbal products, instead of traditional home made liquid remedies, is rapidly gaining popularity in the Philippines because of the convenience it provides. Because of the limited disposable income of many Filipinos, most consumers prefer small retail-type packaging. This is usually in the form of blister pads or aluminum foils each containing a total of 8 to 12 doses. As in any industry, the use of packaging materials generates considerable quantities of waste products before the product even leaves the plant. For pharmaceutical and nutraceuticals companies, disposing responsibly of this essentially “virgin” waste laminates is a big challenge.

In 2009, Herbanext President Philip S. Cruz brought this problem to the attention of Dean Dioscoro Maranon Jr. of the Civil Engineering Department of West Negros University (WNU). In their meeting, it was agreed to look more seriously into the problem as it was clear that the combined volume of this waste from the hundreds of packaging operations all over the country is substantial and potentially an economically viable recycling business operation. This initial meeting finally bore fruit in July of this year when a Memorandum of Agreement was made between WNU Civil Engineering Department and Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT) School of Civil Engineering and Environmental and Sanitary Engineering, to develop technologies for recycling blister waste as a construction material. Herbanext will be the industry partner and will be providing several rolls of the “waste product” as well as technical information on the process of how it is produced. The agreement was signed by WNU and MIT’s presidents, Dr. Suzette Lilian Agustin and Dr, Reynaldo Vea, and witnessed by Dean Francis Aldine Uy of MIT and Dean Dioscoro Maranon Jr. of WNU.

Through the collaborative effort of Herbanext, Mr. Cruz hopes that in the near future, much of this waste from the industry will be taken out of the dump and converted to something useful. At present, Herbanext is experimenting on the using rolls of blister waste as a trellis for climbing herbs to grow on, such as ampalaya, buyo, and makabuhay.