How to safely dispose of rapid antigen tests and surrounding packaging

Information for households, medical centres, hospitals and testing stations on how to safely dispose of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests (RATs) and surrounding packaging.

  • The RAT testing swab should go in the rubbish bin.
  • The cardboard packaging can go in most kerbside recycling bins.
  • You will need to check if your local council accepts any of the other materials for recycling as this varies from one council to another.
  • The Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme does not accept packaging material from RAT testing kits at this stage.

Wash your hands carefully after completing the test and disposing of the test kit contents.

rapid antigen test

Information for households

Testing equipment

The actual testing equipment cannot be recycled and must be placed in the rubbish.

Used rapid antigen test kits can be disposed of safely with general rubbish. This is because any potential COVID-19 virus is inactivated by the solution used, and the cartridge is contained.

Cardboard packaging

Any cardboard packaging can be accepted in kerbside collections bins where the local council accepts this material.

Foil pouches

Foil pouches are typically not accepted in kerbside recycling bins and should be disposed of in rubbish bins. Check your local council website to see if they accept foil pouches.

Other packaging

Any other packaging is unlikely to be accepted in household kerbside recycling bins. Check with your local council as to whether they accept any of the other materials for recycling as this varies from one council to another 

Packaging which appears to be soft plastic can also not be accepted in the Soft Plastic Recycling Scheme at this stage. 

Information for medical centres, hospitals and testing stations

Where large quantities of RAT tests are being used, it is possible that some materials could be recycled.

Some local companies are currently accepting commercial collections of facemasks. They may also be able to take commercial collections of the plastic and foil packaging from RAT tests. They would need to first determine if these could be accepted. This would be decided on a case-by-case basis.