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What happens when hand sanitiser expires?

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Australian state governments have handed thousands of tonnes of unused, expired hand sanitiser bottles to waste companies.
hand sanitiser expires

Australian state governments have handed thousands of tonnes of unused, expired hand sanitiser bottles to waste companies.

The bottles were ordered during the pandemic but went unused.

Waste companies in NSW have been contracted to manage the disposal of 7,000 tonnes of unused sanitiser.

Similar action has also been taken in Western Australia.

Hand sanitiser

Alcohol, the active ingredient in sanitiser, can kill some viruses and bacteria. The World Health Organisation recommends 60-80% alcohol content for sanitiser to limit COVID-19 spread.

However, the alcohol content in hand sanitiser evaporates over time, making the product less effective.

The expiry of a sanitiser bottle gives an estimate of when the alcohol content is expected to fall to an ineffective level, which generally takes several years.

NSW expired hand sanitiser

The NSW Government purchased a “significant amount” of protective equipment, including sanitiser, to limit the spread of COVID-19 in its workplaces. This includes hospitals, classrooms, and police stations.

About 7,150 tonnes of hand sanitiser was unused when it passed its expiry date. The government paid two separate companies to dispose of the expired products, but hasn’t disclosed how much this cost.

Western Australia

The WA Government recently paid a contractor to dispose of over 134,000 bottles of expired hand sanitiser, at a cost of $187,000.

It said while expired hand sanitiser was not dangerous to use, it was not recommended because “it may be less effective than a product that is not expired”.

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