Can overstocked RATs be sustainably removed?

5 December 2022

As with most products, there are considerable issues and risks associated with overstocking goods. This includes the risk of having to sell surplus stock below cost as the market changes. Ultimately, as we continue to emerge from the COVID pandemic, and the supply of RATs increasingly satisfies demand, the market prices for the rapid tests will fall, potentially leaving some with excess stock that is no longer profitable for them.

Complications associated with overstocking

Compounding on this is the storage costs and complications associated with a stock surplus. Studies suggest the annual additional cost of holding surplus stock can be up to 32 per cent. Along with this, items such as RAT tests require specific storage requirements such as correct storage temperature and other conditions that, if not met, can render the tests unusable.

Along with this, having too much cash tied up in excess inventory can lead to poor cash flow which has significant detrimental effects on a company’s debt management and general operations. Another issue is the limited shelf life of products such as RATs. Over the past few years, RAT shelf-life has varied from several months to a full year. However, the aforementioned storage factors can directly impact the reliability of these dates.

Can RATs be recycled?

At the present, most componentry of used RATs, cannot be recycled and are considered to belong to general medical waste.

However, unused RATs are completely recyclable.

Although the materials that RATs are made from are recyclable, once they have been contaminated with biological matter, they are no longer considered recyclable. Furthermore, that this biological matter is from humans means they represent a serious potential health risk to those working in the recycling process.

As such, the only components that can be recycled from used RATs are those that have not been contaminated by biological matter. Such parts include the outer cardboard packaging and the cardboard vial stand.

Thankfully, this does not impact the ability of sustainably disposing of unused RATs.

What does a sustainable removal process look like and why is it important?

There are several ways to sustainably remove excess RATs, and deciding which particular way to adopt depends on various circumstances. RAT resellers can choose to cut their prices and sell to end consumers or liquidation companies, in an attempt to rescue some of the cash tied up in the stock. On the other hand, donating these health supplies can also be an effective way to remove the unwanted stock and provides a positive PR opportunity.

Provided that these other avenues cannot be pursued, correct disposal of these tests is paramount. Thankfully, unused RAT tests can be recycled. As such, it is important for organisations to have processes in place to ensure that they minimise the amount of excess stock that could end up in landfills. This includes engaging only with validated recycling companies and implementing waste management policies that minimise the environmental impact of the superfluous stock.

A sustainable removal process is important as excess stock can represent a large amount of waste that, if managed incorrectly, can place further pressure on an already fragile environment. As we can all attest to, the last three years have seen a drastic increase in plastic waste not only in landfill and in the ocean but littered around our cities. With greater awareness being raised around the detrimental impact of plastic waste on the environment, it has become increasingly crucial for organisations to ensure they remain responsible and avoid negligent processes which will only hurt it’s public image and it’s ability to sustain operations into the future.

Here at Santé we are dedicated to providing a positive social impact on society, our communities, and the environment for the next generation. We like to consider both the present and future impacts that our decisions will have on the environment and risk-manage these factors appropriately. For more information, Talk to us today.