With the changing testing regulations here in Australia, the demand for RAT (Rapid Antigen Tests) isthrough the roof! While testing at home is providing much more convenience and safety for close contacts, the plastic testing kits are creating waste concerns of their own.
But if the tests are plastic, they must be recyclable, right? Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case.
If you’ve been testing at home and aren’t sure how to dispose of your test responsibly, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to discover how (and what) you can recycle from your RAT kits.
Are RAT Tests Recyclable?
If you’ve taken one of these tests yourself, you already know that the kit is filled with plastic pieces, bags, and foils. To us avid recyclers, these bits and pieces seem perfectly recyclable. Unfortunately, most of the pieces in your kit aren’t actually safe for the recycling system.
Let’s unpack our kits together to get to the down and dirty of what can and can’t be recycled (and why!).
How to Recycle Rapid Antigen Test Kits
Inside your home testing kit, you’ll find the following contents:
1. The Kit Box
Just like you guessed, the box your testing kit comes in is a-ok for the recycling bin!
We already know that cardboard and paper materials can be collected in your kerbside recycling bin and since the box won’t come into contact with any used medical materials, it’s safe for the workers at the recycling plant to sort through.
2. Quick Reference Guide and Instruction Manual
Just like the box, all of these paper materials are safe to recycle! Although some manuals or guides will have a glossy finish, the paper is recyclable and can go to the plant to be sorted into the correct treatments!
3. Disposable Nasal Swab
As you already know, this swab is strictly single-use. Unfortunately, because the swab has been introduced to your nostril, it is now considered biowaste or hazardous waste.
When we think about the staff at recycling facilities who sort these materials, the last thing we want to do is expose them to hazardous waste that belongs in the landfill. Simply put, this swab will need to be carefully disposed of in your rubbish bin.
4. Buffer Tube, Rapid Test Cassette and Dropper Tip
All of these pieces are made from plastic that most of us would deem recyclable. Unfortunately, just like the nasal swab, each of these pieces is considered medical waste due to the introduction of human material.
5. Snap Lock Bag
We know what you’re thinking - this bag is soft plastic, therefore, it can go into your soft plastics collection forRedcycle!
While this is true, the purpose of this bag is to seal all of those pieces of medical waste into one secure bag to reduce contamination and contain those hazardous materials when they hit the landfill.
Place all of the pieces of landfill-bound waste into this bag (nasal swab, buffer tube, test cassette, dropper tip, and foil pouch) and snap it shut before placing it in your regular rubbish bin.
What About Covid Saliva Tests?
If you’ve picked up the tests that sit under your tongue and stand up straight in a tube for results, similar rules apply.
The box and instructions of these tests can be recycled, however, the chunky plastic testing tube should be returned to the foil pouch and disposed of in your kerbside rubbish bin. Again, these tests have been exposed to human matter and are simply the last thing that recycling centre staff should be touching and sorting!
Is there a take-back recycling scheme for RATs?!
Whilst we would LOVE this to be a thing, unfortunately things are more complex with contaminated recyclables. We'll keep you posted via our socials, this blog, and our Feel Good Friday emails if we discover one.
Responsibly Disposing of Covid Tests
Now that you know what can and cannot be recycled in your RAT kits, you can responsibly dispose of your kit with confidence. Although most of your kit is not safe to recycle, it’s incredibly important that we protect our peers by ensuring no hazardous waste makes it into the hands of other humans.
If you’re unsure about the regulations for recycling in your area, always check with yourlocal council or government for directions! And of course, don’t forget to check out ourHow-To Guide for recycling in Australia!
We know...It's heartbreaking to see so many tests head to landfill. Hopefully this will change, in the meantime, thank you for responsibly recycling and avoiding 'wishcycling'!