New inhaler carbon footprint table from MIMS supports greener prescribing

Healthcare professionals can compare the carbon footprints of asthma and COPD inhalers using a new resource from MIMS.

The new MIMS table of inhaler carbon emissions can be found online and in the forthcoming March print issue of MIMS.

Available online and in the forthcoming March quarterly print issue of MIMS, the table is designed to help healthcare professionals reduce the carbon footprint of inhaler prescribing whilst optimising care of patients with asthma and COPD.

Reducing the use of pressurised metered-dose inhalers (pMDIs) is a key priority in the NHS's plan to achieve net zero by 2040. pMDIs contain propellants that are potent greenhouse gases, and the carbon footprint of these devices varies considerably between products depending on the type and volume of propellant used.

Dry powder inhalers (DPIs) and soft-mist inhalers have significantly lower carbon emissions than pMDIs, and recent research suggests switching to DPIs could halve the carbon footprint of asthma maintenance therapy.

The table highlights that carbon emissions are only one aspect of inhaler sustainability, and that blanket switching of inhalers is never recommended. The most environmentally friendly inhaler is the one that achieves the best clinical outcome for the patient, whilst minimising the need for additional healthcare resources. 

Carbon footprint rating

Organised by pharmacological class, the MIMS table classifies inhalers as:

  • Carbon neutral (using offsets as certified by the Carbon Trust or Carbon Footprint Standard) 
  • Low carbon footprint (0-4kgCO2e/inhaler) 
  • High carbon footprint (5-20kgCO2e/inhaler)
  • Very high carbon footprint (>25kgCO2e/inhaler).

The table has been reviewed by Darush Attar-Zadeh, Matthew Harrison and Carol Stonham on behalf of RightBreathe and the Primary Care Respiratory Society. It includes advice from Greener Practice for reducing the carbon footprint of inhaler prescribing, and for safely and effectively changing inhalers.

In another move to support greener respiratory prescribing, MIMS recently introduced a leaf symbol in the print edition to highlight inhalers with lower carbon footprints. 

To find out more about what MIMS is doing to support sustainability, visit our 'About us' page.

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