Yea or Nay? Handsome, Stackable Glass Jars for Prescription Medications

By | December 21, 2022

A Brooklyn-based startup called Cabinet Health Wants to do away with single-use plastic prescription medication bottles. The company says the medical industry creates 194 billion plastic medicine bottles a year, and that “90% of them end up in our oceans, landfills, and air supply and break down into microplastics.”

Their proposed solution is refillable glass jars (that you buy from them, of course).

Rather than going to the pharmacy, you have your prescription switched over to them, and they mail you your meds in compostable packaging.

All fine and good, but technically speaking, if I’ve already got a prescription and Cabinet Health refills it, couldn’t I just drop the pills into my old plastic bottle? Of course. What the company is hoping is that their attractively-designed glass “forever bottles”—which are nice-looking, but are really just squat jars—will appeal.

The jars, which feature child-resistant caps, do have at least two potential UX improvements: They’re stackable, to take up less space in a medicine cabinet for those with multiple prescriptions; and up top is a magnetic label with drug information, the lot number, expiration date and a QR code that you scan with your phone to order refills, that latter bit being easier than phoning and going through sub-menus. (Weirdly, the QR code doesn’t appear in any of the product photos.)

I think the ideal is nice, but I’m iffy on the overall benefits. The fine print reveals that their refill packaging “needs to be brought to a commercial or industrial composting facility;” how many folks will do that? It’s also worth noting that while the jars themselves are childproof, the packaging the refills come in is not childproof; so for safety’s sake parents would need to exercise some discipline with getting the pills into the jars immediately upon receipt.

More damningly, the jar’s caps are made out of…plastic. To be fair to the company, they do state that “we invest in plastic offsetting for any plastic still produced in our supply chain, while also providing carbon neutral shipping for all of our customers. We know we still have work to do, and as a certified B-Corporation we regularly measure our environmental and social impact to identify opportunities for continual improvement.”

At press time the company could provide about 200 different medications (but no controlled substances; if you’re Schedule I thru V you’re out of luck).

So, yea or nay? On balance, do you think Cabinet Health’s products are an improvement?

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