Flood recovery waste advice

Following severe flooding incidents, advice below will assist with the clearing up of your property.

Sandbags
How do I dispose of sandbags, and should I?
Any clean sandbags can be stored for future use. If you have sandbags that have been in floodwater, public health advice is that you should dispose of them.

Wear gloves when handling sandbags, and wash thoroughly afterwards. Residents are asked to move sandbags to a safe point outside their property for pick-up. Please be patient as this may take a few days following incidents of severe flooding. Do not add sand or sandbags to your kerbside refuse.

If you have an individual skip for flood-damaged items, sandbags can be added to that. They can also be taken to your nearest recycling centre (contact staff on arrival).

Sandbags on public land, alongside watercourses or put into position by the Environment Agency should not be moved.

What about used sandbags on roads and footways?
Somerset County Council’s Highways Team, in conjunction with the Environment Agency, will remove sand bags from the roads and footways.

Dead animals
What do I do if I find an animal carcass on my property?
For small dead animals on your property – rabbit, rat, mouse etc – please double bag them in black sacks and add this to your refuse bin. For larger animals – fox, badger etc – contact your district council.

If on a farm you should seek advice on correct disposal from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA). Please see also the Environment Agency guidance Flood advice for the agricultural sector under ‘Advice for the Farming community’.

Household waste collection
When will doorstep collections restart in the flood affected areas?
In all flood-affected Somerset Waste Partnership will resume full kerbside recycling and refuse collections, including clinical, assisted and paid-for garden waste collections, on the usual days as soon as access is available.

In areas disrupted by flooded or obstructed roads, recycling and refuse crews will be re-routing collections to reach as many homes as possible. If your collection is missed or your property is inaccessible, report this to your district council.

For advice on missing containers, see below. In flood-affected areas, residents without containers should put out waste on the edge of their property by 7am on collection days, with refuse in black sacks (see also advice on food waste, below) and dry recycling in carrier bags.

What about flood damaged items we wish to dispose of?
Those flooded should contact their insurers and follow their advice. Insurers should arrange or pay for removal of flood-damaged items (such as with skips); do not dispose of them in kerbside refuse bins. Alert insurers, waste removal services or clear-up volunteers about any hazardous materials (see hazardous waste advice below).

How do I safely dispose of food waste?
If usual recycling collections are taking place, waste or flood-damaged food from fridges, freezers and cupboards – with packaging removed – can be added to your food waste recycling container for the next collection. If the food waste recycling container is full, or recycling collections have not restarted but usual or emergency refuse collections are taking place, food (with or without packaging) may be placed in black sacks – ideally double bagged – and put in your refuse bin, or added to the “cannot be recycled” skip at a recycling centre. All usual care must be taken in handling food, but extra care is needed with food for recycling or disposal that has come into contact with flood water, including washing hands thoroughly.

How do I deal with hazardous materials I flood-affected properties?
Removing some materials from flood-affected properties will need special care. Alert insurers, waste removal services or volunteers about hazardous materials. These may be taken to any recycling centre (contact staff on arrival): antifreeze, batteries, DIY and garden chemicals, engine oil and other vehicle fluids for brakes, steering etc, gas bottles, low energy light bulbs and fluorescent tubes, paint, vehicle tyres. Gas bottles and vehicle tyres incur charges. Only some recycling centres take asbestos or plasterboard; for asbestos, ring the recycling centre in advance to check there is space and follow bagging instructions. Contact the police to dispose of ammunition or explosives. Contact your district council for a clinical waste collection, including sharps or needles.

Pharmacies will take back unused medicines. For hazardous materials advice, call Somerset Direct on 0300 123 2224.

How can I get replacement waste containers?
Those returning to previously flooded or flood-bound homes accessible to waste vehicles should tell Somerset Waste Partnership if they need replacement waste containers via their district council.

What about special collections such as clinical waste and assisted collections?
Let Somerset Waste Partnership know if you need clinical or assisted collections via your district council.

What can I take to recycling centres?
All recycling centres are operating on their usual schedules, accepting 30 or more materials, including refuse and sandbags (see sandbag advice, above). For more information on recycling centres, including opening hours, materials taken, fees and charges, and how to handle hazardous materials (see hazardous materials advice, above), contact Somerset Direct on 0300 123 2224 or check our recycling sites pages.

Clearing up – general questions
Can I get help to clear up?
Residents of flooded properties needing help clearing flood-damaged items and cleaning up should first check with their insurance company in case items need to be retained or recorded. If their insurer approves disposal of items, they should make arrangements through the insurer to have items removed. If residents require further assistance with this, they should contact their district council, listing what needs removal and any other help sought.

These requests will be collated by Somerset Waste Partnership and, if appropriate, shared with other authorities, whose volunteers will make contact and may be able to assist in removing waste for disposal, fridges, freezers, other electrical items for recycling, and clearing flood-related debris. Alert insurers, waste removal services or volunteers about any hazardous materials (see hazardous waste advice, above).

Where can I go to arrange waste removal services myself?
For skips and other waste services, check business directories, Yellow Pages or their online equivalents. Whether funded by yourself or your insurance company, take care to avoid rogue clear-up and removal services that will fly-tip your waste. You have a legal duty of care over your waste, even after it leaves your home. If someone offers to take away waste, ask to see their “waste carrier licence”, and check where your waste will go. You can call 03708 506 506 to find if a business has a licence, or look them up online by searching for “public registers” at www.environment-agency.gov.uk . If you use a removal service, record their name, phone and vehicle registration number.

The National Flood Forum offers advice to homeowners to help be ready for flooding before, during and after it happens. Visit www.nationalfloodforum.org.uk for help and advice.

How should businesses deal with their flood waste?
Businesses affected by floods that need to remove waste must check with their insurers first and use commercial waste services.

(This advice is for householders; businesses must check with insurers or use commercial waste services.)