As the nation approaches Flag Day June 14, Waste Management is asking its customers to respect the flag and ensure its proper disposal. Flags that are used or in need of retirement should never be thrown in the trash, the company says.
American flags must be disposed of by burying or burning, according to Congressional order. Congress has enacted regulations governing flag disposal, and mandates penalties for handling flags improperly.
Waste Management drivers routinely recover flags disposed of improperly and return them to local agencies for proper handling. Waste Management facilities across the United States are urging anyone who displays an American flag at their home or businesses to use this Flag Day as a reason to learn and observe proper procedures when a flag is ready to be retired.
"Too often we find flags in the trash and they don't belong there," said Waste Management District Manager Frank McCoy. "We'd like to educate our customers that flags should be disposed of properly in accordance with the government's regulations." Flags collected by Waste Management drivers are handed over to the local American Legion Post, McCoy said.
Local service organizations such as American Legion Posts, veterans groups and Boy and Girl Scout troops often collect flags for proper disposal for those unable to dispose of them properly.
The flag code, as originally passed by Congress in 1942 and amended over the years, recommends burning old flags in a respectful setting as the preferred means of disposal, though burying them is also acceptable. Since many flags are now made from artificial fibers that release small amounts of toxins when burned, some flag advocates recommend bringing them to a crematorium rather than burning them in the open air.