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How to recycle old, broken Christmas lights

Don't toss them in the trash, but don't toss them in the recycling bin, either.

Be sure to get rid of old lights the right way.
Alina Bradford/CNET

It never seems to end. Each year you pull out strands of used lights and find out they don't work. Before tossing them, try these easy tips for fixing Christmas lights. If that still doesn't work, refrain from dumping them in the trash -- and from your recycling bin.

How to recycle lights

Christmas lights can't be recycled like plastic bottles or cans because they are made up of several different components, including glass, plastic and metal. If you're a seasoned recycler, you know that you typically separate items made of different materials before you recycle them. 

Don't start pulling apart your light strands, though. Many recycling centers have special Christmas light collection sites where you can drop off duds to be recycled. For example, for those in the US, Denver Recycles in Colorado will collect and recycle holiday lights from Nov. 15, 2017 to Jan. 20, 2018 at a certain drop-off location.

In the UK, you can use the Recycle Now website to find local drop-off locations for your Christmas lights.

Some recyclers take lights year-round, and you may even make a little cash. For example, New Jersey's Rockaway Recycling pays customers who bring in old lights by the pound.

Your best bet is to call your local recycling centers to find out who is recycling lights and when. Or you can google your town's name + Christmas light recycling to potentially find out the information online.

Give them to charity

If you can't find a place to recycle, there is a charity called the Christmas Light Recycling Program that takes old lights (including broken ones), recycles them and uses the money to buy books and toys for less advantaged children. All the toys and books are then donated to the DFW Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to be distributed.

In the US, you can mail light donations to: Christmas Light Source Recycling Program, 4313 Elmwood Drive, Benbrook, TX 76116.  

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