NoPIILS showed that changing behaviour of consumers can contribute to the development and production of “environmental friendly pharmaceuticals”. Even if the pharmaceutical industry might be driven by its own economic and strategic choices, the results from the project strongly contributed to increasing the demand for green pharmacy in Europe.
The project also proved that communication aimed at changing behaviours can be successful and complementary to “end of the pipe” techniques which are more expensive. Additionally, NoPILLS showed that the general public, patients and healthcare professionals are keen on reducing the environmental impact of pharmaceutical disposal into the environment.
Importantly, project research revealed that a lack of information is a strong barrier to correct disposal. Because of this, the posters, leaflets, educational mini-books for children, exhibition materials and results of the various socio-scientific studies were valuable tools for other regions to inform and train citizens and practitioners.
As an example, one of these campaigns took place in the German town of Dülmen. It focused on intelligent consumption of medicines and their proper disposal. It targeted 13 schools, all the pharmacists in the town, doctors, sports clubs, and other local stakeholders. At the end of the project, awareness in the town of the risks posed by pharmaceuticals in their water had increased by 22%, leading to behavioural change in which the percentage of people who correctly disposed of pharmaceuticals had increased from 34% to 54%.
Dülmen’s success has since encouraged other towns & cities in the region to follow suit. The city of Essen applied for national funding to replicate the campaign and several hospitals have asked the project’s lead partner to carry out information campaigns.
By the end of the project, NoPILLS successfully reduced amounts of pharmaceutical residues in the aquatic environment and improved policies by illustrating the consequences of pollution from pharmaceutical residues in the water.