Pet Cremation Facility Properly Disposes of Retired American Flags for Sussex County MUA

In the 1930s, American flags were mostly made of wool or cotton and as such, the American Legion flag retirement ceremonies were initiated. These ceremonies follow the United States Flag Code Section 176 which states: "The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."
Originally, the American Legion flag retirement ceremonies used an open pit burning method. Today, most American flags are made of nylon or polyester-based fabrics which, when burned in open pits, can discharge hazardous gases, making this method a health hazard.

How to Handle Proper and Safe Disposal

The Sussex County MUA looked for a way to properly dispose of the flags that were brought by county residents and businesses to the SCMUA Recycling Center. While the SCMUA would donate the flags to American legions for their Flag Retirement ceremonies conducted annually on June 14th (Flag Day), they also sought viable, local options to properly handle the decommissioning. The SCMUA collects around 400 pounds of flags a year, so the burial of these flags, although appropriate, would not work. It became evident that this was not only a local problem but a state-wide problem, so the SCMUA approached the NJ Department of Environmental Protection to explore disposal options in NJ.

Abbey Glen's State-of-the-Art Crematory Served as a Meaningful Disposal Solution

The flags could be burned in keeping with the United States Flag Code, but any dangerous fumes would be contained within the enclosed crematory to eliminate any potential health hazards. In 2014, the NJDEP Division of Air and Hazardous Materials Enforcements issued a limited approval to Abbey Glen to combust the stockpiled flags in a proper and respectful manner. In 2015, the NJDEP issued the air permit modification to include the incineration of 1,000 pounds of American Flags from the SCMUA on an annual basis at Abbey Glen. This is the first of its kind state-wide. On Monday, July 11th , the SCMUA hosted a third American Flag Retirement Ceremony at Abbey Glen in Lafayette, NJ with representatives from the Sussex County American Legion and Veterans' organization.

Abbey Glen was honored to participate and pleased to offer our crematory services complimentary so as to provide a much needed, environmentally-focused method of combusting large flag quantities.