Launching the UK’s first medical pen recycling scheme

October 28, 2022

The ask

To support Novo Nordisk in their net zero commitments and encourage pen users and healthcare professionals to give medical waste the attention it deserves, by taking part in the UK’s first medical pen recycling scheme.

The insight

Novo Nordisk distributes around 23 million pre-filled pens in the UK each year. The pens are made of high-quality virgin plastic and glass. Unlike Denmark where the scheme began, deposit return schemes are uncommon in the UK. Our challenge was to encourage people to change ingrained medicine disposal habits and help them envision a future where such medical recycling schemes become the norm. Pen users were keen to take part, but had concerns over how easy and accessible the scheme would be.

Market research showed that at least one out of three insulin users threw their medical pens in the general waste after use. We knew the scheme had to have a broad appeal, to capture interest from pen users who represented different demographics with varying attitudes to recycling. Pharmacists, another key audience for this pilot, said they were keen on incorporating a recycle scheme into their practices.  

The idea

The campaign had to be instantly recognisable and inspire a 'can-do' spirit, by using clear and concise language with a strong visual identity. PenCycle and its accompanying strapline ‘You return it, we recycle it’ explains the pilot’s mission in just seven words.

The pilot was based around a ‘circular mindset’ – the design had to reflect this. Taking inspiration from the mobius loop (the internationally recognised symbol for recycling), PenCycle needed a similarly standalone symbol. Our interpretation of the recycling symbol helped deliver high impact visuals, while reducing ink use in line with the company's overarching sustainability goals.

The impact

The PenCycle pilot officially launched in November 2021 and by January 2022 PenCycle’s sign-up rate far was higher than was projected, providing an encouraging start and evidence for the need of such a scheme in the UK. The pilot’s success saw both global affiliates express interest in launching PenCycle in their own markets, and other insulin manufacturers who were interested in collaborating with Novo Nordisk in the future. 

From the start of the campaign, our mission was to ensure our partner, Novo Nordisk, was provided with the support and creative solutions needed to make the pilot a success. We continued to support Novo Nordisk with the national rollout of PenCycle and moving forward we can’t wait to see how this scheme positively impacts greater sustainability efforts within the industry.

What we delivered:

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