Covid-19 waste disposal advice ‘not changed’

The government said today (19 July) guidance around the disposal of pandemic-related waste had not changed despite the lifting of lockdown restrictions in England.

Almost all lockdown restrictions introduced because of the Covid-19 pandemic were lifted in England today.

Those in self-isolation are asked to double-bag used PPE and store it for 72 hours before putting it in with ‘black bag’ waste

First published on 13 July 2020, the government’s guidance on how to dispose of Covid-19 waste applies in England only and not to healthcare settings such as hospitals or primary care providers (see letsrecycle.com story).

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says it has updated its guidance “to reflect the move to Step 4 of the Roadmap”. At Step 4 of the government’s Roadmap out of lockdown, nearly all legal limits on social contact are removed.

However, in practice there are no changes to the rules and regulations on the disposal of waste such as face coverings, personal protective equipment (PPE) and lateral flow tests.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Defra told letsrecycle.com: “The guidance around the disposal of these wastes has not changed.”

Covid-19 waste disposal

Defra says cloth face coverings should be washed and reused to prevent and reduce waste.

“The guidance around the disposal of these wastes has not changed”

Defra spokesperson

If people need to throw away used face coverings or PPE such as gloves, they should do so in ‘black bag’ waste bin at home or at work, or a litter bin if they are outside. Used face coverings or PPE should not be put in a recycling bin as they cannot be recycled through conventional recycling facilities.

Used face coverings or PPE do not usually need to be placed in an extra bag or stored for a time before being thrown away. However, if someone is self-isolating with a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus, they should double bag any face coverings or PPE and store them for 72 hours before putting them in with their ‘black bag’ waste.

Anyone who uses a home rapid lateral flow test kit should dispose of it in the small waste bag provided. The small waste bag can then be disposed of in a waste bin at home or at work.

Waste management businesses should continue to follow appropriate guidance for hygiene and health and safety practices, Defra says. Waste from rapid lateral flow tests and the testing process do not present any increased risk compared to that of personal hygiene waste.

Related links
Coronavirus (COVID-19): disposing of waste

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