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Trim Your Waste with Holiday Light Recycling Programs

Nov 21 2016

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Each year around the holidays it’s the same routine: pull out the decorations, untangle the lights, and test every strand to find the handful that have managed to burn out between this year and last. You might hang on to one strand for replacement bulbs but otherwise you don’t need the rest. What’s an eco-conscious person to do?

Enter: Holiday Light Recycling

Lucky for us, DuPage County has a holiday light recycling program that’s been going strong for at least 12 years. Over the years, the program has recycled over 600,000lbs of holiday lights!

Elgin Recycling partners with many of the towns to provide the seasonal program. It provides bins for each location as well as pick-up when they are full. The program is free for residents to participate.

SCARCE and the Village of Carol Stream were the inaugural locations to bring holiday light recycling to the community. SCARCE has since collected holiday lights for recycling year-round. The program has expanded a whole lot since that first year.

What’s recycled?

Holiday lights contain copper, a valuable natural resource. The plastic and the brass prongs from the plugs are recycled as well as small bits of metal from the rest of the strand.

Light strands are put into a shredder and then sorted by material, such as glass, copper, and plastic. The amount that gets recycled from each strand has improved over the years. If you’re into the details, the Atlantic has an in-depth article on how holiday lights are processed.

Recycling your lights not only saves landfill space, it also saves tons of energy – even more if you replace your burnt-out bulbs with energy efficient LED light strands. Because it’s already been refined, recycled copper requires up to 90% less energy to produce. Mining copper ores requires more energy and damages local ecosystems. It releases toxic gases too. Lastly, copper is a finite resource. It’s just practical to conserve  and reduce, reuse, recycle it as much as we can.

Bring Us Your Old, Your Broken, and Your Tangled, Burnt-Out Masses

Bring any type of holiday string lights, including LEDs, Italian mini-lights, and rope lights, to SCARCE for recycling year-round.

Not near DuPage County? Check with your local government or hardware stores to see if they offer programs.

Program partner: Elgin Recyclingelgin-recycling-logo


Sources
Copper Recycling and Sustainability
Metal Recyclers, LLC 7 Gains of Copper Recycling

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