Summer is right around the corner, and as we look forward to barbecues, beaches and fireworks, we will no doubt be producing more trash and recycling. But, when we think of items that we regularly throw away or recycle, the American Flag doesn’t often come to mind. That’s because we hang them proudly and the thought of throwing them in the garbage bin (or even the recycling bin) would feel unpatriotic.

“With Flag Day coming up on June 14, it is a good time for businesses and homeowners to inspect their flags,” said Will Flower, Vice President at Winters Bros. Waste Systems.  “Flags can be washed or repaired to make sure they are clean and not torn.  If a flag is beyond repair it should be properly retired.

According to the U.S. Flag Code, any American flag that is worn, damaged or tattered beyond repair should be disposed of in a respectful and dignified manner. Throwing your flag in the trash is not an option. Washing or repairing it is an option as long as it meets certain standards. Winters Bros. has a program to recover and properly retire US Flags that were improperly discarded in the trash. “When a driver sees a flag in the trash, he or she will safely recover the flag and bring it to delivers them to our dispatch’” said Flower.  Flags that are recovered are collected and given to a Boy Scout Troop for a proper flag retirement ceremony.

What to do with a dirty flag?

If your flag is dirty or dingy, washing it may save it from early retirement. Washing flags is not prohibited and in fact, washing your flag on a regular basis can prolong its life. Most outdoor flags can be hand washed with a mild laundry detergent and left to air dry. Flags can also be dry-cleaned. It is also acceptable to make minor repairs to a damaged flag. Repairs should not be conspicuous and dimensions of the flag should not be noticeably altered. Flags with large tears or excessive fraying should be retired.


How to properly retire an American Flag?

If your flag is no longer serviceable, the preferred method of disposal is in a formal flag retirement ceremony where the flag is incinerated. It is also acceptable for individuals to seal an old flag in a box or bag and bury it, or burn it in a respectful ceremony.  Flag Day (June 14) is a popular date for many service organizations, including the American Legion and Boy Scouts, to collect worn flags and conduct flag retirement ceremonies.

Winters Bros. Waste Systems is the premier solid waste and recycling company on Long Island. The Company provides a full range of solid waste and recycling services to commercial, residential, industrial and municipal customers.  Services are provided through a network of operations including multiple hauling locations, seven recycling centers, and eight transfer stations.  The Company has a long and successful history in the solid waste and recycling business dating back to the 1950’s.  Today, Winters Bros. employees 337 dedicated people.  The firm’s corporate office is in West Babylon, NY. Winters Brother’s mission is to create a cleaner and greener environment for generations to come.

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