An insulin pen is made from several components and is – for obvious
reasons – not designed to be easily disassembled once it has rolled
off the production line.
In order to recycle the plastic parts, Novo Nordisk first
needed to find a way of automatically sorting the pen’s many components.
“We were almost at the point of writing this task off as
impossible, when a talented colleague within production designed a
machine which could do exactly what we needed it to do,” Dorethe says.
As a pilot, the machine was tested on pens discarded after
production - and has yielded impressive results.
“It just worked – so well, in fact, that we were able to use
the discarded plastic to make office chairs in collaboration with a
Danish design firm,” Dorethe says. “Meanwhile, the glass from our
discarded insulin vials has also been given a new lease of life
after being melted down to create lamps,” Dorethe says.
The challenge now is to scale up the solution, which until now
has only been used for pens that never make it off the production line.
“It shows us that it is possible,” Dorethe adds. “We are now
engaging with partners who can handle our used insulin pens on a much
larger scale, while at the same time making sure that the materials
are being put to good use.”