What you need to know about disposing of your lateral flow devices

16th March 2021 Posted by

England started 2021 shackled by yet another national lockdown. These strict restrictions were put in place to ensure that we limited the pressure on an extremely strained NHS and slow down the virus spread.

Whilst the vaccination roll-out, which started in December 2020, is critical in our fight against coronavirus, mass COVID testing will also be a critical part of society’s response as soon as the lockdown finishes.

Local authorities in England, schools and some workplaces are being given access to quick turnaround tests with the aim of prioritising critical workers unable to work from home during the lockdown.

Life after lockdown

Many organisations are keen to carry out lateral flow tests, to protect and ensure the safety of their employees and to prevent further spread.

For charities, educational institutions and other organisations who have opened their doors already or will be getting back to business in the next few weeks and months, testing will be critical in ensuring business continuity, but as a result they will produce increasing amounts of lateral flow device waste (LFD) So what do we need to do if we have LFD testing on site?

Can you put your LFD waste into a black bag?

Yes. Waste management operations should continue to follow appropriate guidance for hygiene and health and safety practices, but according to the latest government guidance lateral flow devices waste (LFD) and the testing process does not present any increased risk compared to that of personal hygiene waste. LFD wastes from non-healthcare settings i.e. schools and workplaces can be managed alongside other wastes types at that location. They can be collected as part of the normal residual ‘black bag’ waste stream as a mixed municipal waste (under code 20 03 01).

Regulations pertaining to LFD waste have changed in the last couple of months, recognising that some organisations may still be using yellow or tiger bags for these types of waste stream. If you are a non-healthcare organisation, we advise you to follow the latest guidance and use only black bags for disposing of this waste to make your waste collection easy, cost-effective and safe.

Can it be disposed of in the residual bin?

LFD wastes can be placed in a residual waste bin, along with other residual wastes, or bagged separately and then stored in the same large receptacle (e.g. 1,100L Eurobin) as other bags of residual wastes prior to collection.

What happens to the LFD waste?

LFD waste presented in a black bag will be collected with the rest of your general waste and will be compacted in the vehicle, or at the transfer station where it is bulked up with similar waste before being transported and then treated in an  approved energy-from waste facility..

Public Health England have confirmed that there is no additional risk from the COVID-19 virus when compared to wastes from other respiratory viruses (or bacteria) when mixed LFD testing wastes are:

  • crushed, compacted (in a refuse collection vehicle, or skip), sorted in a trommel screen, or otherwise mechanically handled and managed, or
  • managed through picking lines if LFD wastes come through a material recovery facility (MRF) or in other locations where there is manual sorting of wastes.

Are universities considered as mast testing sites?

The majority of universities have medical facilities on site, or they are being established as a dedicated asymptomatic testing site, and as such will be considered to be a healthcare setting and should segregate any LFD wastes in accordance with Department of Health & Social Care guidance: Waste codes for mass testing with lateral flow antigen testing devices. There will be some exceptions to this, and the Department of Health and Social Care will work with these separately.

If LFD wastes are being collected separately from these sites (code 20 01 99 – separately collected offensive municipal wastes) or arise from registered healthcare facilities or dedicated testing sites (code 18 01 04 and 18 01 07 – non-hazardous offensive healthcare wastes) they should be managed appropriately and presented in the yellow or tiger bags.

How SUEZ can help?

SUEZ has a robust network of treatment facilities across the UK and we are working with several trusted partners in the regions to ensure that our collection and disposal service is both safe and compliant.

We are currently supporting a number of universities, colleges and other organisations and institutions with LFD waste collection and treatment and our teams are delivering reliable and hassle-free services whilst ensuring the highest health and safety standards and compliance with the latest government guidance.

Our waste and compliance experts continue to monitor guidance and any changing regulations, and feed into government on weekly calls about lessons learned and practical realities, so you can rest assured that your mass testing kit disposal is fully compliant and our advice is both up-to-date and relevant.

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