Holiday light recycling effort returns to Minnesota communities

Beginning today, the Recycling Association of Minnesota is holding a two and-a-half month collection event for recycling holiday lights statewide in Minnesota, joining thousands of local organizers holding recycling events across the country to c...

Beginning today, the Recycling Association of Minnesota is holding a two and-a-half month collection event for recycling holiday lights statewide in Minnesota, joining thousands of local organizers holding recycling events across the country to celebrate America Recycles Day, the only nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States.

Recycling Association of Minnesota and the Clean Energy Resource Teams are once again working together to provide the Recycle Your Holidays program to Minnesotans. Hundreds of drop-off sites are available to Minnesotans across the state who want to recycle their old, tangled, and broken holiday lights. Recycle Your Holidays is the only holiday lights recycling program of its kind in the country and has recycled over 840,000 pounds of holiday lights since its inception. The Recycling Association of Minnesota provides the collection bins and collection services for participating locations to recycle holiday lights during the holiday season.

Vocational centers that employ individuals with disabilities are contracted by the Recycling Association of Minnesota to provide the pick-up service and sort the thousands of pounds of holiday lights for the program each winter. Recycle Your Holidays provides meaningful green jobs for nearly 400 individuals with disabilities each year.

Minnesotans may bring in their old or non-working holiday lights to be properly recycled at any participating location listed on the association's online interactive map through the end of January, 2016. Go to to find the map. The goal this year is to recycle 100,000 pounds of holiday lights.

"This program is a win-win-win. Minnesotans have a free recycling option, valuable recyclables are kept out of the landfill and the program provides meaningful employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities at local vocational centers throughout the state of Minnesota," said Maggie Mattacola, executive director of operations for the Recycling Association of Minnesota. "This is the sixth year of this program and we are excited to be able to partner once again with CERTs and many other businesses and organizations."


"Keep America Beautiful proudly supports (Recycling Association of Minnesota) America Recycles Day event and commends their efforts to promote recycling in Minnesota," shared Keep America Beautiful President and CEO Jennifer Jehn. "Recyclable items we use every day, like that cereal box and milk jug in the morning, are recoverable resources that can be manufactured into new and valuable products. Together, we can reduce the billions of dollars' worth of material thrown away each year and work to give that "garbage" another life through recycling."

Saving with LED Holiday Lights

Around the holidays, many homes, porches, shrubs and trees are donned with holiday lights. Depending on one's holiday lighting enthusiasm, a home can save between $10 to $250 each holiday season by switching to LED holiday lighting. This is because, according to the Department of Energy, LED holiday lights save up to 90 percent of the energy used by traditional incandescent holiday lights. The LEDs are also safer, sturdier, longer lasting, and easier to install.

Alexis Troschinetz with the Clean Energy Resource Teams weighed in on the impact of recycling old lights and upgrading to LEDs: "For every old holiday lighting string recycled and replaced with more efficient LED holiday lighting, 19 kilowatt-hours of electricity are saved over the course of the holiday season," said Troschinetz. "This is the same amount of energy as a common CFL household light bulb would use if left on for 24 hours a day for 2 months straight."

The association has recycled nearly 840,000 pounds of holiday lighting since the inception of this program.

"If even half of these light strands were upgraded to more efficient LED holiday lighting," Troschinetz explained, "Minnesotans are saving over 7.7 million kilowatt-hours and $648,000 year after year. That's enough energy to power the electricity of 686 homes for an entire year."

The Recycling Association of Minnesota reports it is committed to promoting resource conservation through waste prevention, reuse, recycling, composting and purchasing practices using the most cost effective and environmentally sound methods available in Minnesota. Methods to do this include conferences, convening educational forums, creating networking opportunities, disseminating timely information, providing public education, creating unique recycling programs and initiating cooperative dialogue among our diverse membership. The association provides outreach activities to the public through the America Recycles Day campaign, our unique recycling programs, our website, recycled product educational kits, educational events and other means. The association is the state affiliate of the National Recycling Coalition, Keep America Beautiful, and is the state organizer for America Recycles Day.

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