WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Where to Dispose of Old Christmas Lights?

Jan 8, 2013

After the holiday season people might have broken Christmas lights and used batteries from their new electronic devices. Those should not be thrown in the trash. Also landfills in Illinois do not take electronic waste, but the Tri-County Regional Collection Facility in Macomb recycles it for free.

Solid Waste Coordinator Chad Braatz said Christmas lights contain valuable copper which can be recycled, and batteries contain toxic "heavy metals” which if dumped into landfills, can leach into water and cause problems for treatment plants.

Broken Christmas Lights to be recycled at Tri-County Regional Collection Facility in Macomb.

"They cannot remove those heavy metals and that water, once it's treated, is released back to surface water which eventually becomes drinking water," Braatz said,  "so we don't want to throw anything in a landfill anymore that we don’t want to drink."

Batteries need to be taped before being dropped off, to prevent them from sparking when coming into contact with each other. Tri County also has two drop-off locations in Monmouth plus one each at the city halls in Bushnell and Colchester. Additionally there are drop-offs in Henderson, Hancock, and Fulton counties.