Rapid Covid tests to be made recyclable with Slovenian know-how

Maribor, 24 March - The Maribor Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and the UKC Maribor hospital have presented a project that will allow for recycling of rapid antigen tests. The single-use Covid-19 tests are currently treated as hazardous waste and incinerated, wasting EUR 15,000 per million tests in plastic and gold.

A PCR test.
Photo: Thierry Monasse/STA

Antigen tests currently cannot be recycled as the two main materials, white plastics and nano-gold, cannot be separated using existing technology. Plans on how to separate the two materials are underway, the faculty said.

After separation, nano-gold can be used to synthesise new nanoparticles or in different cosmetics and optics products. Recycled plastic from the tests can be used in electrical installation casings.

Another challenge is how to eliminate the risks of virus contamination. The virus can be destroyed using heat, but the project explored alternative options to avoid unnecessary waste of energy. A study in cooperation with the Veterinary Faculty showed that the virus is destroyed after tests are quarantined for 20 days.

Other partners in the EUR 700,000 worth project funded by the Norway Grant are Faculty of Polymer Technology, Institute of Metals and Technology and companies Plastika Skaza, Surovina and Zlatarna Celje. Healthcare centres and individuals will be invited to participate at a later date to help collect used tests.

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