Be cautious when assessing and working with flood-impacted property and waste. Floods can cause harmful materials, such as asbestos, to shift or react.
EPA is supporting local government and clean-up operators in ensuring the right waste goes to the right places.
Sandbags are used to prevent floodwater from entering homes and other buildings. By blocking the water flow, both the bag and the sand can become contaminated with sewage, pathogens and chemicals from the floodwater.
If you can see that sandbags are contaminated with oil, faecal matter, or you suspect them to be contaminated, you should dispose of them at a landfill that accepts flood-affected waste.
If sandbags have not come into contact with floodwaters then local government can decide to reuse the bags and sand, given they are unlikely to be contaminated.
For sandbags that have come into contact with floodwaters, they are likely to be contaminated and may pose a health risk. Our advice is as follows:
- local government can choose to reuse the sand however, they must satisfy themselves that the sand does not pose a health risk or environmental risk for the intended use
- local government / Emergency Services can retain the sandbags and sand at depots for use in future emergency incidents
- the flood affected sandbags can be transported to landfill for disposal.
EPA recommends that flood affected sandbags not be used in gardens, playground areas or places where people may come into contact with them due to the health risk.
Always wear gloves when handling used sandbags and other flood-related waste
Managing farm green waste and waste crops from floods
Following flooding, you may have crops that are no longer viable or green wastes on your property. EPA encourages on-farm management of these wastes where practical.
If you are unable to manage wastes on-farm. You should dispose of waste to a licenced landfill. You can contact your local council for more information about acceptable waste facilities.
The Victorian Government has introduced landfill levy exemptions, and gate fee waivers for flood waste. This is to ease community hardship in flood affected municipalities.
EPA understands that these options may not be practical. Burning of trees, plants, and stubble may be appropriate if you manage the impacts.
Smoke can impact air quality and human health. For support, read our Farm Waste Management guidelines.
For more information on how to check, apply and notify of burning activities, visit Fire Permits.
For technical support on grazing, and pasture land recovery, visit Flood and storm financial advice and support.
Other waste disposal
Use an appropriate licenced landfill to dispose of:
- broken fencing
- spoiled stock feed
- household furniture damaged by floodwaters.
- damaged building materials containing asbestos or treated timber (ensure it goes to a landfill licenced to take that type of waste).
In an emergency, EPA can authorise discharges, emissions, storage, treatment, disposal and handling of waste.
Reviewed 9 November 2022