Resilient Recycler: String Lights Wreak Havoc at Recycling Facilities
"One light goes out, they all go out!" Christmas lights are iconic when it comes to the holidays, but how many times do we really go the extra mile to find that one broken bulb before picking up a replacement strand at the store? As you take down your Christmas decorations this year, you may find that you don't need as many lights anymore, or that some of the strands of lights you have just straight up don't work. You should never put strand lights in your curbside recycle cart, mainly because they are not a mixed recyclable and will eventually be sorted out and sent to the landfill. Additionally, strand lights are notorious for getting wrapped up in machinery causing shut-downs and delays at the recycling facilities. While you may not be able to recycle Christmas lights in your curbside recycling cart, there are several companies that can recycle them for you! Here are your options:
If your lights are still functioning, donate them to a reuse store such as Goodwill or Salvation Army. Give your old lights the chance to light up someone else's home this Christmas. For a more detailed list of locations that accept functioning strand lights in Clark County, click HERE.
Take your Christmas lights to be recycled, but never put them in your Recycling cart! Here is a list of drop-off locations in and around Clark County that accept and recycle old, broken Christmas lights:
Lowe's Home Improvement Lacamas Lake, 18801 SE Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver, WA 98638
EH Metal Recycling, 8801 NE 117th Ave., Vancouver, WA 98662
Total Reclaim & EcoLights, 6427 NE 59th Place, Portland, OR 97281
*Always call ahead of time to ensure they are still accepting these items*
How do Christmas lights get recycled?
The most valuable material that is extracted from strand lights is Copper. The strands are cut into smaller pieces and the copper is removed from the outer plastic lining. The extracted copper can then be used to make secondary items such as wires or piping. The leftover plastic is also used make secondary products such as the soles of slippers. Many of the Christmas lights we recycle in the United States are sent to China to go through the materials extraction process and production of secondary items.
On the Go? Get the free RecycleRight App for your smart phone or tablet! Download the free Recycle Right App. Available at the Apple App Store, for iPhones or iPads, or Google Play for android devices. Look for RecycleRight and the familiar Big Blue Recycling Cart icon.