COVID-19 test material made from gelatin is sustainable, plastic-free

To say that COVID-19 brought a lot of problems globally is probably the understatement of the decade. Aside from the obvious medical, social, and economic effects, there has also been a major impact on our environment, particularly in terms of the increase of single-use plastics. COVID-19 tests have of course been a necessity but they have contributed to non-biodegradable medical waste that we throw away every day. Since we’ll probably be living with this virus for some years, there must be a way to stem this use of single-use plastics.

Designer: Luis Fernando Sanchez Barrios

This Mexico-based designer thought about this growing problem. The fact that we throw away 10g of plastic every time we use a lateral flow coronavirus test is troubling if you think about the environmental footprint that this leaves. So he thought about coming up with a more sustainable alternative to the current lateral flow assays or anything that’s being used to test for the COVID-19 virus. Another concern would be something that will not add to the cost of making these tests. What he came up with is something called Gelassette.

The designer actually created a biodegradable cellulose-based rapid test back in 2020 but now he has come up with something based on this but with an improved and optimized design. This new prototype uses no plastic with the positive characteristics needed mimicked by gelatin. This material is already utilized in other medical technology and is a fully biodegradable material. With this material, you get 4 weeks soil biodegradability and less than 3 hours of water dispersibility.

This is a pretty important development in terms of coming up with more environment-friendly COVID-19 tests. Now as to whether Gelassette will work with these existing lateral flow assay tests from various medical companies is another thing.