Old cords, light strings can be recycled to provide employment

Old cords, light strings can be recycled to provide employment

Old extension and power cords may be clutter. Holiday lights that lose their sparkle may be a nuisance. But they are not trash. ProAct, a nonprofit that serves people with disabilities, offers several seasonal drop-off spots for those unwanted light strings, electrical, appliance and phone cords. Drop off unwanted items, help the environment and provide work for people with disabilities.

The program is now underway and will continue until January 2020.

People with disabilities process the cords and bulbs at ProAct’s Eagan facility.  ProAct has additional operations in Red Wing, Shakopee, Zumbrota and in Hudson, WI.

The program, which is in its sixth season, has expanded over the years. Check the site list carefully before planning a drop-off as some sites have changed and a few are no longer available.

The items collected will be disassembled and sorted by people with disabilities. All the work and income from the processed material will benefit individuals with disabilities in ProAct programs.

The holiday lights recycling effort is held in conjunction with several cities in a wide metro area. “Keep your lights and cords out of the trash and recycle bins. Let us handle them properly to reclaim the valuable material for reuse in new products,” said ProAct Work and Recycling Manager Jennifer Cavalier.  The effort also helps to employ dozens of people with disabilities.

Some items cannot be recycled through the ProAct program, so keep those out of the donation bins. Don’t leave cord adapters, battery packs, plastic rope lights, CFL lights, light fixtures, trees and garland in the containers. County solid waste departments can provide information as to how to recycle those items. Where things go is dictated by a person’s county of residence.

Anything that is pre-lit needs the light strands removed from the item and the item disposed of separately by the consumer before being recycled through ProAct. That can include wreaths and trees.
Christmas lights and electrical cords cannot be recycled in standard, single-sort recycling bins or in residential curbside recycling programs. The items can cause problems in the regular waste stream. But the material is recoverable, said Cavalier. 

ProAct has expanded its holiday recycling effort each of the last few years. Several tons of materials come in each year.

Drop off locations serviced by ProAct are offered in Dakota, Goodhue, Scott, Ramsey and Washington counties in Minnesota and in St. Croix County, WI.  These include:

  • Apple Valley: Dakota County Western Service Center, 14955 Galaxie Ave.
  • Eagan
    • Lebanon Hills Visitors Center, 860 Cliff Road
    • ProAct, Inc., 3195 Neil Armstrong Blvd., (to office or bin by garage, if closed)
  • Farmington
    • Farmington City Hall, 430 3rd St.
    • Farmington Liquor Store, 18350 Pilot Knob Road
    • Farmington Liquor Store, 109 Elm St.
    • Rambling River Center, 325 Oak St.
  • Hastings
    • Dakota County Administrative Services Center, 1590 Highway 55
    • Hastings City Hall, 101 4th St. E.
    • Hometown ACE Hardware, 1355 S. Frontage Road
    • Terry’s Hardware, 375 33rd St. W.
  • Hudson, WI
    • ProAct- Hudson, 1202 Beaudry Blvd.
  • Inver Grove Heights
    • ACE Hardware & Paint, 3098 65th St. E.
    • City of Inver Grove Heights, 8150 Barbara Ave.
    • Inver Grove Veterans Memorial Community Center, 8055 Barbara Ave. E.
  • Lakeville
    • Lakeville City Hall, 20195 Holyoke Ave.
    • Lakeville Liquor Heritage, 20164 Heritage Ave.
    • Lakeville Liquor Kenrick, 16179 Kenrick Ave.
    • Lakeville Liquor Store, 16000 Galaxie Ave.
    • Mendota Heights: Mendota Heights City Hall, 1101 Victoria Curve
  • Red Wing: ProAct-Red Wing, 204 Mississippi Blvd.
  • Rosemount
    • City of Rosemount- Community Center, 13885 S. Robert Trail
    • City of Rosemount- Steeple Center, 14375 Cameo Center
  • Savage: City of Savage, 6000 McColl Drive
  • Shakopee: ProAct- New Options, 792 Canterbury Road, Suite 132
  • South St. Paul: City of South St. Paul, 125 3rd Ave. N.
  • West St. Paul
    • City of West St. Paul, 1616 Humboldt Ave.
    • Dakota County Northern Service Center, 1 Mendota Road West