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How To Dispose Of Your Rapid Antigen Tests Correctly

The nation's use of Rapid Antigen Tests has increased with the decision to focus on RATs instead of PCR tests. However, many Australians are unsure how to properly dispose of them once used

So once you've got your hands on a RAT, and (hopefully!) had a negative result, it's time to dispose of it safely.

All elements of the RAT: the swab, liquid tube and cassette (where your result displays) must all go into your waste bin. 

RATs cannot be recycled despite predominantly being made from plastic. 

So why can't we recycle them?

Dean Whiting, the CEO of Pathology Technology Australia, the peak body representing manufacturers and suppliers of the tests, explains it's not due to the materials the tests are made from. 

Mr Whiting said anything contaminated with biological material, including blood, urine or faeces, could harbour a contagion or an infectious agent.

"Once used, the cassettes now contain a tiny amount of biological material. And any biological material — any human waste — is potentially infectious and, as such, can't be recycled under any circumstances," - Dean Whiting. 

He added that to his knowledge, there is nowhere in the world that is offering a means of recycling the kits. Adding that although the chances of infection from a used RAT are "incredibly low", he asserts that we cannot take that chance in the recycling environment. 

He advises that the best way to dispose of a used RAT safely is to collect all used components, including packaging, place it into a bag and dispose of the bag into your household waste. 

However, an cardboard boxes the sealed tests are sold in can be recycled. 

Although the waste associated with RATs is off-putting, environmental group Planet Ark said there was not enough data yet on how much plastic from the kits was going to landfill. 

Mr Whiting adds that "rapid test results had allowed critical industries, such as food production, to continue operating" and also helped to reduce the community spread of coronavirus. 

Planet Ark added that it was important people followed the rules and did not try to recycle the tests.