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Consider Recycling, not Burning, a Retired Flag

The most common way for a Boy Scout to properly dispose of an unusable U.S. flag is by burning. But if the flag is made of nylon, burning is not necessarily a good idea.

The idea of burning flags was endorsed in 1937, back when most flags were made of wool or cotton. Nowadays, flags are made of nylon or polyester, which are durable and last much longer.

But when those flags are burned, they create hazardous gases. The recycling process instead takes virtually all of the material in the old flag and makes it available for producing new flags.

You can still have a flag retirement ceremony, during which you should discuss the flag’s history (Where was it flown? For how long?). Then you can respectfully cut up the flag and mail it to an organization that will recycle it for a small donation.

Click here for instructions on recycling your retired flag.

13 Comments on Consider Recycling, not Burning, a Retired Flag

  1. The recycling program has been on hold for some years.

  2. What about polyester custom flags what’s the best way to recycle

  3. You can’t cut or mutual ate a flag

  4. Send to terrorcycle in New Jersey they will turn it into a useful product school playground or something

  5. If people care enough to fly our country’s flag, perhaps they should care enough to make a donation to an organization (such as BSA) to respectfully retire that flag when the time comes, if it requires recycling in lieu of burning. Perhaps gradually with more education this necessary expense can be covered by those needing to retire a flag. It’s an investment in our country’s future.

  6. Anonymous // June 6, 2011 at 3:53 pm // Reply

    I was wondering if it would be respectful to put flags in a cardboard box and bury them in a area that would be marked and used each year for the flag retirement cermonies? Scoutrunner

  7. While this is a laudable idea, the expense associated with recycling a large number of flags would be considerable. My District has a formal flag retirement during a closing campfire every Spring – we burn only cloth flags while the Scouts are present, and synthetics after everyone has left. And we are very mindful to be upwind while burning the synthetics. To recycle the flags that we retired, including shipping costs, would have run about $400. Not in keeping with the Ninth Point.

  8. That’s cool

  9. cool idea!!
    I never intentionaly disrespect the flag.

  10. Hanstarkiller // December 7, 2010 at 7:28 pm // Reply

    Cool idea!!!!!!!!

  11. that’s a cool idea. I would never intentionaly disrespect the flag. Whith this I won’t have to.

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