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Lateral testing in education brings new waste protocols
Schools must prepare for new waste disposal responsibilities ready for the roll-out of the lateral testing process, advises facilities services provider phs Group.
New mass testing is being introduced across education designed to rapidly identify and contain asymptomatic cases of Covid-19.
Settings are being provided with test kits and PPE for the testing of all staff, all secondary school-age pupils and students aged 19 to 25 with education, health & care (EHC) plans. But the scheme is set to produce thousands of used tests each day across the country which cannot be disposed of within standard waste streams. As the lateral flow tests are classed as a non-hazardous chemical waste, they must be segregated and incinerated.
"Daily lateral testing in education settings brings with it several logistical elements to prepare for,” warns Clare Noble, head of healthcare of phs Group. “A key step is the disposal of used tests along with the associated packaging and PPE waste which means a new process will need to be set up and implemented.
“Crucially, lateral flow tests must be incinerated. Educational institutions are advised to speak to their waste disposal provider and ensure the right measures are put in place now, ready for reopening."
As a waste disposal provider to thousands of education premises, phs will be offering a new collection service to dispose of the new waste stream. This also includes provisions to provide appropriate bags, new internal bins and external lockable bins. In addition, phs's sustainable waste strategy LifeCycle will see this waste processed through energy-from-waste (EfW) plants; transforming the waste into energy to power homes and industry.
While PPE waste, including gloves, masks and aprons do not have to be incinerated, they are classified as offensive waste. Therefore, it must be segregated in 'tiger bags' or isolated for 72 hours in black bags, before being disposed of in the general waste stream. However, environmental concerns have been raised about the surge in plastic waste generated as a result of the increased use of PPE. In response, phs has launched a new PPE bin which will see waste diverted from landfill and into EfW facilities to generate power.
"As a leader in waste management, phs is committed to safe, responsible and sustainable disposal,” adds Clare. “We're the only national hygiene provider to have an energy-from-waste solution for our customers on this scale, relieving the burden that waste places on our environment. It's not only about doing the right thing for our customers but the right thing for the planet too."
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4th February 2021