What are Lateral Flow Test Kits?

“Lateral Flow” or “Rapid” Test Kits are growing in popularity for carrying out quick on-site tests that indicate whether COVID-19 antigens are present. You can get a result within 15 minutes without having to send the kit off to a lab.

These kits are ideal for mass testing of people in the healthy population to capture the possibility of the virus before they enter an enclosed environment. This is particularly effective for places like schools, nurseries, nursing homes and healthcare premises to protect younger and vulnerable people and reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

How Do Lateral Flow Test Kits Work?

  • A swab sample is taken from the nose and/or mouth.
  • The swab is then mixed with a buffer solution which can release and break up virus fragments.
  • Some of the solution is then dropped onto the Lateral Flow Device and any solution containing virus fragments is drawn down onto an absorbent strip.
  • Virus fragments will move along the strip to reach a set of labelled antibodies. Once virus fragments and antibodies bind, they enter a “test zone”.
  • After about 5 minutes, a coloured line will appear in the “control zone”, which indicates that the test has worked.
  • If a coloured band also appears in the “test zone” then this means the test is positive and the virus is present.

If the result is positive, the person being tested should go to a test centre to confirm if the virus is present in their system. While Rapid Test Kits are a good indication of whether someone has the virus, they aren’t as accurate as the results someone may get from a lab.

How Should You Dispose of Lateral Flow Test Kits?

The following guidance has been relevant up until March 2021, however our communication from officials suggests that government advice on this matter may be changing in favour of a more “general waste approach”. We are continually monitoring the GOV.UK website and will update our resources as soon as conclusive updates arise.

For the actual device and included implements, you need a specific “clear bag” service. The kit, including all parts that have encountered the buffer solution, needs to be incinerated. This is due to the nature of the chemicals present.

Separate the kits from any other waste and place in a clear, plastic bag to be collected for incineration. Do not put testing kits in your general waste stream, or other clinical waste streams like your infectious or hazardous waste bins.

How Should You Dispose of Testing PPE?

PPE is classed as “offensive waste” and must be disposed of with a specific offensive waste service.

Healthcare workplaces like Nursing Homes may be tempted to throw PPE in with one of their existing clinical waste streams, like hazardous waste bins, but that would be erroneous. PPE is under a certain classification and must be disposed of as such.

If all these classifications are new to you then don’t panic, our Waste Management services include free advice on what waste streams your business needs to cover.

How Should You Dispose of Test Kit Packaging?

As long as the packaging hasn’t come into contact with the chemical solution, it can be disposed of as normal. Make sure to recycle cardboard or plastic packaging and put unrecyclables in your general waste bin.

How Do You Know Your Waste Disposal is Compliant?

Here are the two things you need to look out for:

  • A licensed waste carrier: if the person coming to collect your waste isn’t a “licensed waste carrier”, then they aren’t legit. They’re transporting waste illegally, and you could get into big trouble for handing your waste over to them.
  • Waste transfer notes: these are your evidence that you’ve handed waste over to a licensed carrier. Get a transfer note with every collection – it should detail the amount and nature of your waste – then you can rest easy knowing you’ve got proof of compliance.

The world of Waste Management can be a tricky one, but at Direct365 we like to make it easy. We compare reliable suppliers nationwide to find UK workplaces the best prices possible. Get a range of waste types covered no matter what business you’re in: we cater to all capacities, supply bags and bins, and follow current government guidelines.



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