If you live in a sharehouse in Australia, you probably have a lovely collection of used rapid antigen tests (RATs). Never let it be said that you need to have a big budget for interior design. Plus, combine them with the mound of old vapes under your couch and you’ve got a strong contender for the local art gallery.
But if you’d like to actually get rid of your gross old pile of RATs and aren’t sure how to, here’s a handy guide.
Unfortunately you can’t recycle them, but it’s for a good reason. Basically, they can’t be recycled because they contain biological material.
Pathology Technology Australia CEO Dean Whiting told the ABC that stuff with biological material on it could still harbour an infectious agent. Fair enough, don’t want those mixing in with your cardboards and clear plastics.
“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,” Whiting said.
“The chances of it actually being infectious are incredibly low, but we can’t take that chance in the recycling environment.”
While the RATs, swabs and other scientific bits and bobs can’t be recycled, you can pop the cardboard box and paper instructions in the yellow bin.
As it turns out, you also shouldn’t just be raw-dog yeeting those used RATs into your regular bin either.
According to Whiting, it’s recommended that you put the RATs in a sealed plastic bag before binning them. He also said that if you’ve got a positive RAT, it could be a good idea to pop a speck of bleach onto the buffer tube and test cartridge.
If you’re doing that be careful, though. No one wants a bleach burn while they’re dealing with having COVID.
Environmental group Planet Ark told the ABC that at the moment, the priority should be safely disposing of RATs instead of trying to recycle them.
“Once we can ensure the health and safety of the most vulnerable in our communities, that will be the time to take further action on the waste generated during the pandemic,” Planet Ark said.
And according to NSW Health, you should wash your hands carefully after both doing an RAT and after binning it. Good advice for the pandemic generally, that is.