Can lateral flow tests be recycled?

published Dec 20, 2021
1 min read

With the rise of Covid causing the UK to panic-order lateral flow tests, it means that more and more plastic devices will be thrown away after use. Fast Skips, who provide skip hire and sustainable waste management services in the UK, work hard to divert as much plastic away from landfill as possible. So, they’ve put together information on how to dispose of your lateral flow test kits as well as what can be recycled.

What are lateral flow tests?

The lateral flow test is a free test provided by the Government website or pharmacies that make testing for COVID-19 from home easier. The swab included in the test is rubbed across your tonsils, or where your tonsils would be and then inside your nose. The swab is then placed in the liquid from the pack and poured onto the test. Within 15 minutes, the test will be able to produce results similar to a pregnancy test with one or two lines.

How to properly dispose of the lateral flow test

In accordance with the latest government guidance, lateral flow tests should be disposed of in a residual waste bin. The government also states that the lateral flow devices do not pose any increased risks of infection and can be considered the same risk as any other personal hygiene product that is placed into black bag waste streams.

Once tests are completed, any masks, gloves and all of the components of the test, including the swags and cartridges, should be put into the plastic bag that comes with the test kit and then placed into your black bin bag.

The outer cardboard packaging as well as the paper instruction leaflets can be disposed of in the paper and cardboard recycling bins alongside other household recyclable waste.

What happens to this waste once it is collected?

The black bin bags will be removed with all other general waste and then transported to your local waste management facility. As lateral flows are treated as a non-recyclable item, once the lateral flow devices reach the waste management facility, where possible, this waste will be sent to incineration with recovery for energy.

Are lateral flow tests hazardous waste?

Lateral flow tests are not deemed hazardous waste and are not considered infectious, even if the test is positive. This is in accordance with the WM3 guidance.