Back in the heady days of 2019, I first wrote about the frustrations of opening my bathroom cabinet to an avalanche of plastic medicine syringes and spoons. Same in the kitchen where the cutlery drawer seemed to have been overrun by a swarm of them.
Clearly, we need a safe way of measuring out liquids so that the correct dose can be given, but having a new syringe in every box is really unnecessary and irritating, and nobody really wants it if they're honest. Kind of like having a new Prime Minister every few months. Both of these eyeroll scenarios give me sleepless nights, in part because of their contribution to the climate crisis. Grim smile.
Let's also remember that for the majority of youngsters, once they get to the age of 5 they are old enough to learn to swallow tablets safely. As luck would have it, there's been some fantastic work done on this very topic by our friends up the road at Newcastle's Great North Children's Hospital. Many tablets are actually very small (such as antihistamines) and if you have the right equipment (a sports drinks bottle is key here - just watch this video), it's definitely achievable.
And aside from the excessive supply of syringes and spoons clogging up spaces where shampoo bars and plastic-free floss should thrive, I see real problems with liquid antibiotics in my daily work as a GP. The real biggie is that children often dislike the taste, so much so that their care-giver rings up the next day to ask for an alternative. Now that's a significant problem when it comes to antibiotics, both in terms of the stress it causes the person administering the medicine, and the safety aspect of not knowing exactly how much has just been spat out. We are also battling the global issue of antibiotic resistance, and incomplete courses of antibiotics actually increase the ability of bacteria to become like evil cartoon villains: muscley, cloaked, and frighteningly resistant to antibiotics. Plus, if you've ever opened the lid of a bottle of amoxicillin you'll be au fait with the unforgettable stench of fake banana, and wondered why it's not subject to the same laws as other items banned in the 1996 Chemical Weapons Act. You, my friends, definitely need to make the switch to tablets for your little people, as soon as it's safe to do so!
Your local GP or nurse may well already have asked your child the question "can you swallow tablets?", and we want you to feel confident that there is evidence behind this. Plus, tablets are usually cheaper, easier to store, have a longer shelf-life, and a lower carbon footprint. See? There's always a cunning green angle here, friends! And with that in mind, I'm delighted to announce that Calpol have teamed up with our local Hull-based friends at ReFactory (who are already providing boxes for our nationally-acclaimed blister pack recycling scheme), to offer recycling for used Calpol syringes! So open your medicine cabinet with a strategically placed jiffy bag to catch the ensuing tide of purple culprits, and post them off to:
FAO: Calpol Syringe Recyclability
Kenvue Consumer Care Team
Johnson & Johnson Limited
50-100 Holmers Farm Way
If you work in a clinic, ward department, or GP surgery, why not have a collection box so that you can really stuff full your envelope? Making recycling easy for people means they are much more likely to take part. And if you're lucky, you may live near one of 10 specially chosen Tescos (angelic sound effect), where the metaphorical red carpet has been laid out and they have installed a box to collect not only your Calpol syringes, but also plastic medicine spoons. Yes, it really is that exciting! But before you crack open the low-food-miles organic sparkling wine, check that one of these locations is close by, so you avoid the additional travel emissions associated with traipsing around the country (though I would give you an 'A' for commitment):
Tesco Aberdeen Extra, PE29 3FG
Tesco Ashford Park Farm Extra, TN23 3LU
Tesco Aylesbury Extra, HP19 8BU
Tesco Baguley Extra, ME15 6SF
Tesco Blackpool Clifton Extra, DT9 3ND
Tesco Bradley Stoke Extra, BS32 8EF
Tesco Hartlepool Extra, TS25 1UP
Tesco Hastings Extra, TN38 9RB
Tesco Hatfield Extra, AL9 5JY
Tesco York Tadcaster Road Extra, YO24 1LW
It's as easy as that! Well almost; just make sure it's only Calpol syringes, as they are really clear about not accepting other brands. We'd love the scheme to expand of course, and for other common medicines' plastic packaging to be included. So then, Reckitt (who make Nurofen), GSK (Piriteze), and Boots (own brands of various bits and bobs), when are you going to join in and address this issue?
Please tell your friends and family and ask your local GP surgery or pharmacy if they are going to be, er, taking the plunge, and collecting syringes...