Holiday Light Recycling Effort Launches with 300 Collection Sites


by CERTs and Recycling Association of Minnesota
Friday, November 4, 2011

Recycle Your Holidays ™ returns to Minnesota with robust program and big goals


Media Contact:
Maggie Mattacola
Alternate Media Contact:
Ellen Telander

Click here to download a PDF of this release

Statewide, Minn., Friday, November 4, 2011 – Fall is officially here and with fall comes decorating for the holiday season. But what to do with that tangled clump of holiday lights? Are you really going to find that one bulb that is burned out? Most people give up and just throw them in the trash…well not anymore! The Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM), in partnership with the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), announces the third annual launch of Recycle Your Holidays ™, the one and only statewide holiday light recycling program in the United States starting just in time for America Recycles Day on November 15, and lasting throughout the holiday season.

“Recycle Your Holidays ™ recycles every part of the light strings. Even the little lights are recycled by project partner Green Lights Recycling,” stated Ellen Telander, Executive Director of RAM. “This year our goal is to recycle 200,000 light strands and to encourage more Minnesotans to make the change to LED light strands.”

Minnesotans are encouraged to drop off their old, broken holiday lights at any participating Ace Hardware or other local participating locations during the holiday season. RAM and CERTs are making it easier than ever to find out where you can recycle your holiday lights with an interactive map. If you don’t see a location near you, be sure to check the website again later as more sites sign up throughout the holiday season. There are already 300 participating locations this year, so the program is likely to exceed the 400 locations from last year. You can see the map at

Unlike any other holiday lights recycling program in the country, RAM will recycle all lights and cords free of charge and RAM contracts with local vocational centers to provide meaningful jobs and green job training for individuals with disabilities.

“Recycle Your Holidays ™ is a great way for folks to get rid of old, inefficient, broken light strands and upgrade to new, efficient LED holiday lights from their local hardware store,” says Joel Haskard with the Clean Energy Resource Teams. “According to the Department of Energy, running LED holiday lights on one 6-foot tree for 12 hours per day for 40 days can save 90% or more energy when compared to traditional incandescent holiday lights. Over the past two years, Recycle Your Holidays ™ has saved 2.7 million kWh with 280,000 lbs of lights recycled because recycling is more efficient than mining virgin metals for wire. This amounts to a bit over $200,000 in avoided energy costs!”

Businesses, schools, and organizations across the state were quick to sign up as collection sites again this year, noting the ease of the program and its popularity with the people they serve.

“Recycle Your Holidays was a successful project in Granite Falls,” remarked Dennis VanHoof of the Granite Falls EDA. “We collected about 10 boxes of lighting strings and then delivered them to Benson. People appreciated it because it was convenient, and for us it was easy to do and just took a little volunteer time. The local hardware store box was always full.”

Dave Nieman, Manager of the St. Peter Ace Hardware, had a similar experience. “Recycle Your Holidays went really well, so well be we had to use bigger containers: 32 gallon garbage cans. Customers really liked it because they could get rid of their old lights in an environmentally friendly way. Our store gave $3 rebates if people replaced their old lights with LEDs, and this went over very well, too.”

Mary Milbrath, Housing Director and Director of Nursing at Laurels Edge Assisted Living in Mankato, had this to say: “Recycle Your Holidays is a great program! Family members loved it. It was so simple—I made a sign, hung it above the bucket, and families that visited utilized it. People that brought their lights in often commented that it was a great idea to not put old lights in the landfill but put towards something useful.”

The program provides free recycling of holiday lights, free recycling bins with signs and free pick up service to any organization, government office, business or school. All are welcome to participate as a drop-off location. To sign up online, visit the RAM website at The program can also recycle any type of electrical cord such as telephone cords and damaged extension cords.

For more information about Recycle Your Holidays™, the map of drop-off locations, or to sign up to participate as a collection site, visit and click on the link from the homepage.

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About CERTs: The Clean Energy Resource Teams connect you with resources to identify and implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. CERTs is made up of community members across Minnesota who share a bold vision for Minnesota’s energy future: to foster strong communities, to create local jobs, and to develop clean and reliable energy from clean sources.

About RAM: The Recycling Association of Minnesota RAM is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization with more than 200 members from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. RAM is the Minnesota affiliate of the National Recycling Coalition. RAM 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. RAM is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

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Minnesota Department of Commerce University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission