As more and more of us are turning to Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), if only to reassure ourselves that we don’t have Covid-19, apartment block managers are having to deal with the sudden inclusion of significant numbers of used test kits in their garbage and recycling.
This is only likely to increase as the government pursues plans to make kits more readily available and part of its plans to get children back to school.
As a result, one prominent building in Sydney’s East has issued a notice to residents telling them that RAT kits are not recyclable and are, in fact, biological waste.
“Like probably most residential properties, [this block] has no special facilities for the safe disposal of biological waste,” says a notice from the building’s managers.
“The NSW government recommends that used RATs are placed in a small plastic bag which is sealed and then put into another plastic bag which is also sealed.
“Unsealed used RATs represent a potentially serious health hazard for other residents and our cleaners,” it continues.
The note advises that the used kits, once double-bagged in resealable pouches, should be put in land-fill bins only, although the outer cardboard packaging can be recycled with other paper materials.
This concurs with advice given by both the NSW and South Australian Health departments.
“Disposal will vary according to information provided with the test instructions,” says the NSW Health advice. “Some tests come with a plastic bag to place the contents of the test into (including the swab).
“This bag is then placed into another bag for disposal with the household rubbish. Test kit materials are not recyclable.
“If no bags are provided you can place the used items from the test into a small plastic bag that can be sealed. This bag should be put into another bag that can be sealed and disposed of in the household rubbish.
“Wash your hands carefully after completing the test and disposing of the test kit contents.”
If you’re not sure what to use for double-bagging used tests, sealable sandwich bags available in supermarkets would be ideal … until they sell out as quickly as RAT kits.