Park District Joins Holiday Lights Recycling Effort

Posted on: December 15, 2017

Are you storing holiday lights that no longer work, or are faded beyond color recognition? It’s tough to decide what to do with them – nobody wants old lights and cords to take up space in a landfill. The Glen Ellyn Park District has a terrific solution for those unwanted holiday lights that are languishing in your basement, garage, or attic: recycle them!

From November 22nd through January 31, bins will be available for the collection of unwanted and non-working holiday lights. Drop-off is FREE! Lights will periodically be transported to Elgin Recycling, who is partnering with the Glen Ellyn Park District and various other villages, businesses, and libraries who are part of this joint effort.

“We’ve offered this service for about five years,” said Renae Frigo, Naturalist with the Glen Ellyn Park District. “It’s so easy, we just set up the bins and dump them into the collection container when they’re full. Elgin Recycling picks up the container and takes the lights away to be recycled.”

The Glen Ellyn Park District is offering the following collection sites in Glen Ellyn:

  •  Spring Avenue Recreation Center (185 Spring Avenue)
  • Main Street Recreation Center (501 Hill Avenue)
  • Ackerman Sports & Fitness Center (800 St. Charles Rd)

Last winter, over 112,000 lbs of holiday lights were recycled by Elgin Recycling. Of that, over 3,100 lbs came from Glen Ellyn! “It’s not just Christmas lights anymore,” added Frigo. “Many people decorate with lights for Halloween and Easter, too. Some people line their porches, decks, and patios with decorative lights year-round. We’re proud to be part of this effort that recycles metals and keeps hundreds of thousands of pounds of lights out of landfills each year.”

The additional value in recycling the unused lights comes from the copper and small bits of metal in the wire strands, along with the plastic pieces and the brass prongs from the plugs, that are able to be stripped out and reused in other products.

At Elgin Recycling, light strands are entered into a shredder that sorts the material into different categories, like glass, copper, and plastic. Recycling lights saves tons of energy, especially if bulbs are replaced with energy-efficient LED light strands. Recycled copper takes 90% less energy to produce, since it has already been refined. It lessens the need for copper mining, which requires a lot of energy, can damage local ecosystems, and is thought to release toxic gases.

If you have old holiday lights in need of recycling, keep in mind that all types of lights are accepted. LEDs, Italian mini-lights, and rope lights can be recycled, whether they still work or not. Do your part to assist with this very smart, helpful, and eco-conscious program!