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How to Recycle Christmas Tree Lights this Holiday Season

Updated November 2018
Recycle Christmas tree lights

It’s that time of year again. That moment when you plug in your Christmas lights and they don’t light up with the cheer you were expecting. Or you might want to try something new this year with your light display and have no need for the old lights. Before you head to the trash can, did you know that you can safely and responsibly recycle Christmas tree lights instead?

Can Christmas Tree Lights be Recycled?

Yes! In fact, Christmas lights contain common recyclable materials like metal, plastic, and sometimes glass. They have a coating of polyvinyl chloride covering copper wiring and fitted with sockets. Most Christmas tree lights are also made up of LEDs bulbs, which are also recyclable.

How to Recycle Your Old Christmas Tree Lights

If you know anything about recycling, it’s that materials need separating beforehand. But don’t start pulling them apart, strand by strand and placing them in your blue recycling bin yet. These cords can tangle in the rotating machinery at the recycling plant, which could break the equipment. Not to mention endanger the people working. That’s why recycling centers have specific collection locations so you can drop off your old Christmas lights without hassle.

To recycle Christmas lights, recycling centers shred the strings and bulbs into smaller pieces. Those pieces are then separated into raw materials (plastic, glass, copper) and reused to make new products, like slipper soles.

Where to Recycle Christmas Lights in San Francisco?

Luckily for Bay Area residents, GreenCitizen will recycle Christmas tree lights at our Burlingame EcoCenter for $.75/lbs. This recycling fee makes sure they’re recycled locally and in the most environmentally responsible way. They’re sent to Sims Metal Management in Redwood City, an e-steward certified electronics recycler. Sims grinds the strings up and separates the plastic and copper for reuse.

Where to Recycle Christmas Tree Lights Everywhere Else?

You can first check with your state’s requirements on how to dispose of your old Christmas lights. Otherwise, a nearby home improvement center like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace, and True Value offer Christmas light recycling. You can also check out for their year-round Christmas light mail-in recycling program.

GreenCitizen also has a mail-in recycling program where you can send your Christmas lights to us and we’ll recycle them for you.

Another option is to use the Green Directory, a nationwide search engine for recycling virtually any item or material, including Christmas lights.

Whether one bulb is out, or the entire string, don’t throw away Christmas lights into the trash. If they can’t be donated, consider recycling as a green alternative. These lights contain valuable materials that can be reused again without further damaging the environment.

At GreenCitizen, we strive to develop a sustainable metropolitan model that focuses on the circular economy. Why mine for more resources when the ones we already have can be repurposed?

This holiday season, make the eco-friendly decision to recycle your old Christmas lights instead of putting them in the garbage. Residents can drop them off at our Burlingame EcoCenter while businesses can sign up for convenient building pickups.

If you have any questions about how to recycle Christmas tree lights, call us today at (650) 493-8700.

6 Comments on “How to Recycle Christmas Tree Lights this Holiday Season

    There in noting on my local Home Depot site about accepting old Christmas lights. I wish there was a list of locations per city to drop off.

    I’ve checked with 2 Ace Hardware stores and a Home Depot. None of them would accept lights for recycling

    As a former employee, I know that Urban Ore in Berkeley accepts used christmas lights, working or broken.

    Do you still accept christmas lights?
    They are not on your list of items (free) or other.

      Hi Lezlee,

      Yes, we still accept Christmas lights! They are $.50/lbs to recycle. We have updated our website accordingly.

    Just wish to say your article is as surprising.

    The clearness in your post is just excellent and i could assume you are an expert on this subject.
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    keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the gratifying work.

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