Biodegradable testing kit helps drastically reduce medical-waste created by the pandemic

We’ve generated more medical waste in the past few months than we have in all of 2019. The pandemic has seen a surge in the demand of items like masks, face-shields, and PPE, ggravating our plastic waste problem. Countries have ramped up production for medical kits too, and more testing often leads to more waste being created. Fernando Sánchez from Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico proposes a solution to this rising waste problem with his Biodegradable Medical Test kit. Made entirely from plant-based materials that can easily biodegrade into soil, these kits help ramp up testing without leaving a massive ecological footprint behind.

“Each test is made of cellulose and contains no plastic, fiberglass, or nitrocellulose, elements found in almost all single-use diagnostics. It can be disintegrated in wastewater and is safe for most plumbing systems, even those with septic systems. The test can biodegrade in the soil in less than 10 weeks, just like a banana peel”, says Fernando, who designed the Biodegradable Testing Kit as his final-year project. The kit consists of a nanoparticle-based immunochromatographic test that helps detect antibodies present in a blood, serum, or plasma sample. The tests are accurate and easy to read as the results display in under 8 minutes. At the end of the test, users are required to upload their results to a database using a mobile application and the QR code provided on the side of the test. Each testing kit has a unique serial number to ensure results are logged into the database with accuracy, preventing errors or repetitive entries. Once done, the testing kit can be safely collected and disposed of, allowing it to decompose into soil and leaving no waste behind.

Designer: Luis Fernando Sánchez Barrios