Sandbags have been provided by local government to Illinois counties that have been affected by recent floods.
The Daily Herald reports that sandbags are cheap to make thanks to economies of scale, the low cost of materials and the help of thousands of volunteers in Lake County.
However, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency warns that once the sandbags have come into contact with floodwater, they can't be reused.
Floodwater can be contaminated with waste, oil and gasoline residue, farm chemicals, pesticides and herbicides.
Local governments, such as Lake County, are allowing residents to return them by dropping them off at their public works facilities.
Sandbags are typically made of polypropylene plastic, while others are made of canvas. IEPA Spokeswoman Kim Biggs says the sandbags made with canvas can be burned with an open burn permit from the agency.