Covid-19 Waste Disposal Guidance

News – Monday, March 22nd, 2021

The UK Government have updated the guidance for England on how to dispose of business waste, including face coverings, personal protective equipment (PPE) and waste from lateral flow tests, during the coronavirus pandemic.

The following are some of the key points relevant to businesses and organisations.

Face coverings, PPE and lateral flow devices (LFDs)

It is advised that cloth face coverings should be washed and reused to avoid unnecessary waste. For guidance on how to make and wear resuable cloth face coverings please click here.

It is important that PPE and face coverings are removed carefully. Avoid touching the inside of face coverings and wash your hands or use hand sanitiser after they are removed.

If face coverings or PPE, such as gloves need to be thrown away:

  • dispose of them in your ‘black bag’ waste bin at home or at work, or a litter bin if you’re outside
  • do not put them in a recycling bin as they cannot be recycled through conventional recycling facilities
  • take them home with you if there is no litter bin – do not drop them as litter

It is not necessary to:

  • put them in an extra bag
  • store them for a time before throwing them away

Home lateral flow device tests

Rapid lateral flow tests should be placed in the small waste bag provided with the kit before disposal. Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests are to be considered as normal household or workplace waste and disposed of accordingly. Click here for more detailed guidance on LFD waste disposal in other settings.

For those who are self isolating

To dispose of any face coverings or PPE you or members of your household use when self- isolating, you should:

  • double bag them
  • store them for 72 hours before putting them in a ‘black bag’ waste bin

Do not put them in a recycling bin.

For businesses and organisations

You should:

  • provide extra bins for your staff and customers to throw away their waste face coverings and PPE used for social distancing, and any other additional waste, such as takeaway packaging and disposable tableware
  • make sure that staff and customers do not put face coverings and PPE in a recycling bin as they cannot be recycled through conventional recycling facilities
  • make sure bins are emptied often so they do not overflow and create litter

You do not need to collect PPE separately but, if you do, you must describe and code your waste correctly. If your staff are using PPE at work to protect against risks other than coronavirus, they can throw it away in the usual way.

You can put used disposable face coverings and PPE in an ‘offensive waste’ collection (yellow bags with a black stripe), if you have one. You may be able to use specialist PPE recycling services for some items. Ask your waste contractor.

For more information on the government’s guidance please click here.