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Better watch out: Don’t toss unwanted Christmas lights into trash anymore

Beautiful Christmas Tree Lights Abstract Background

Beautiful Christmas Tree Lights Abstract Background

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Updated: January 24, 2013 6:18AM

Illinois residents can do lots of things with holiday lights.

They can wind them around their Christmas trees, drape them over the mantel with some pine boughs — even use them to make their houses visible from low Earth orbit.

What they can’t do with old, burned-out, tangled strings of lights is throw them in the trash.

As of last Jan. 1, holiday lights joined Illinois’ list of electronic items banned from landfills.

Cindy Torraco, North Aurora village executive assistant, said while village residents can take their broken electronics to a monthly recycling collection drive, the next local drive won’t happen until Jan. 26.

So North Aurora officials have placed a drop box for holiday lights in the lobby of village hall where residents and visitors can dump them until mid-January.

“Since it’s the first Christmas that people can’t put them out on the curb for trash pickup, we decided to give them a convenient place to dispose of them,” Torraco said.

ERC of Chicago, the Montgomery-based recycling company that runs the village’s electronics collection drives, will pulverize discarded lights, then shake the rubble to separate out the copper, brass, glass and plastic for re-use, said company co-founder Jason DeCarlo.

“People used to burn lights to get the insulation off the wires, because copper wires are more valuable without the coating. But that releases toxins in the air, so it’s bad for the environment,” he explained. “We make sure to recycle them in a responsible way.”

Elgin Recycling says in its website that it also is collecting discarded lights for recycling.

People also can drop off unwanted lights between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Kane County recycling drive location, 540 S. Randall Road in St. Charles; from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays at the Batavia Public Works garage, 200 N. Raddant Road; from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays at Habitat ReStore, 800 N. Route 31 in Elgin; and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at the Naperville Public Works recycling drop-off center, 180 Fort Hill Drive, until April 1, 2013.

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