How to Dispose of Sandbags (the right way)

People generally stockpile sandbags during hurricane season to help fortify their homes, businesses, and properties before the storms hit.

Sandbags are a simple yet highly effective way of preventing or at least reducing, the damage caused by floodwaters.

They act as a barrier around your property, keeping it safe from harsh weather conditions.

However, sandbags that aren’t stored and adequately managed can become a health risk. They can form mold and even turn into a hub for various diseases and viruses.

That is why you need to know how to dispose of sandbags once you’re done using them.

Let’s begin.

Consider Reusing the Sandbags

Before you decide to dispose of your sandbags, there’s an important question you should ask yourself. Is there any possible way you could reuse your sandbags?

Sandbags that haven’t been in contact with rainwater and were safely stored away as per the instructions given can be used in many different ways.

Dry, unused sandbags can be stored or donated to flood sites to help people in need.

Moreover, you can also consider reusing the sandbags on your property for construction or even on permanent earthen structures.

Once the sand has been used, the clean, empty bags can be repurposed as a DIY project.

Remember, making the most of the things you have lying around not only saves you money, but it’s also more eco-friendly. We should all do our part in reducing the trash that makes it to landfill sites and clogs them up.

How to Dispose of Sandbags

If there’s no way for you to reuse your sandbags, don’t worry.

Below, you can find out how to dispose of sandbags in different conditions. Keep in mind that proper sandbag disposal is the user’s responsibility, regardless of whether you’re a property owner or a mere resident.

There are plenty of state laws and regulations to follow, so read up on them beforehand.

Disposing of Uncontaminated Sandbags

Full sandbags that haven’t been contaminated by rainwater can be used as general fill in construction sites. However, there are a few regulations you will need to be cautious of.

Firstly, the sandbags must have a minimum of 6 inches of soil cover or vegetation.

Also, the cover must be placed so that it prevents the sandbags from being exposed to the surface.

It should also keep them from deteriorating, washing away, or being blown by the wind.

Always leave your used but uncontaminated sandbags in a covered location for a few days so they can dry out before storage. This prevents the chances of mold growing in the bags.

Disposing of Contaminated Sandbags

Things are a little different for sandbags that have been in use and exposed to rain or flood water.

Firstly, you need to keep in mind that sandbags that have been in contact with water could be contaminated with sewage, bacteria, and oil.

All of these pollutants make the sandbags extremely dangerous to reuse or even keep in storage. You cannot simply dry them off to use again; they need o to be disposed of properly ASAP.

The very first thing you should do is reach out to an appropriate landfill site that takes in contaminated material. Your solid waste center will probably accept the sandbags.

Make sure to handle them with great care and use protective gear like gloves and a face shield when handling the bags. Sanitize properly after transporting the sandbags to the landfill.

You can also send them off to demolition or sanitary landfill site. Just talk to the site managers beforehand and ensure that they take in sandbags.

Remember that used sandbags should never be kept with your regular garbage or placed curbside for trash collection.

The public works will not pick them up, and it can expose the neighborhood to a variety of dangerous pathogens and other contaminants.

Disposing of Sandbags with Manure

If your sandbags came into contact with manure, you could easily apply the sand inside to a piece of agricultural land.

You will need to ensure that the rate of application is consistent with the applicable state rules, and this activity is recorded in the farm’s operating books.

Once the bags have been emptied, you will need to dispose of them at a municipal solid waste site.

Disposing of Unused Sandbags

There are various means of getting rid of unused sandbags.

You can save them for future use, donate them to an organization or even take them to a landfill (although we highly recommend the alternatives).

The sand from these sandbags can be used as an aggregation substitute on construction sites. You can even use full sandbags as general fill or for berm construction.

Lastly, the clean sand from the sandbags can be used in your flower beds as a soil amendment. You can also use it for snow and ice control on pavements or your driveway during the winters.

Important Disposal Points to Remember

Below, you can take a quick look at some important points to remember when disposing of your sandbags.

  • Placing sandbags in an area where they can wash into the waterways is a violation of the clean water laws.
  • Sandbags that have had exposure to flood waters can be contaminated with pathogens, so they should be kept away from human contact.
  • You can use sandbags as clean fill material but only after covering it with a layer of at least 12 inches of soil.
  • Sandbags can easily be stockpiled and used for winter road sand or mortar sand.
  • If you have a broken sandbag, you need to take extra precautions to ensure it doesn’t erode into waterways or storm sewers.

Some Dos and Don’ts

Sandbags are commonly used across the city as a means of protection against floodwaters.

They can keep homes from getting flooded due to hurricanes and heavy rains. That’s why it is always useful to have some sandbags on your property, safely stored away.

If you do have some sandbags lying around or plan to get some for the upcoming harsher weather conditions, here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind.

For Dry, New, or Unused Sandbags

  • Do: Make full use of them for flood protection instead of disposing of them.
  • Do: Use them in the flowerbeds in your backyard.
  • Do: Be sure to dispose of the empty sandbag in the garbage disposal.
  • Do Not: Empty out your sandbags in a sandbox.
  • Do Not: Dispose of your sandbag on the beach, the local park, or the school’s play yard.

For Used Sandbags

These pointers are for sandbags that have had exposure to rainwater.

Since there are high chances of contamination through various pathogens, it is best not to reuse those sandbags or even have them stored around your property.

  • Do: Dispose of the used sandbag through one of the methods mentioned above. Make sure you handle the sandbags safely and keep yourself protected against any contaminants.
  • Do Not: Dispose of these sandbags in the garbage disposal or your trash cans.

Do Sandbags Go Bad?

While sandbags do go bad on continued exposure to water and constant wetting/drying, the good news is that they can last quite a long time.

Sandbags can easily for up to 8 months and sometimes over a year if stored properly.

If you have unused sandbags lying around, they will probably last you through the upcoming hurricane season.

Where Do You Store Sandbags?

It would be best if you always stored your sandbags in a dry, covered place.

Since the material of the bag is polythene, it will start disintegrating upon exposure to extremities in weather, especially direct sunlight.

If left in an uncovered space, your sandbags will be rendered useless when you end up needing them.

Try to store them in your basement, garage, or even the backyard shed.

You should make sure that there is no water leakage or sharp objects around that could damage the bags.

Are Sandbags Waterproof?

No, they aren’t.

Sandbags can’t seal out water; that is why they aren’t considered waterproof.

Your sandbags will start to deteriorate if left exposed to water for several months. Continued wetting and drying also cause them to go bad.

What Sand Works the Best for Sandbags?

Play sand is considered the best for sandbags.

That is because it doesn’t pulverize as much as plaster sand or mason sand does.

Final Words

Sandbags can be exceptionally useful during the rainy seasons. They will protect your living room from being flooded over and serve as an extra layer of strength for your home’s framework.

However, sandbags are quite prone to getting contaminated or developing mold. To prevent this from happening, always make sure to store your sandbags properly.

If you do have contaminated sandbags, try to dispose of them immediately. Leaving them lying around can pose a serious health risk to you and your family.

Therefore, the best course of action is to call your nearest landfill site and take the required measures to get rid of the sandbags.

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