Thanks to Ace hardware, broken lights don't need to be tossed in the trash.
That old tangle of unwanted holiday lights doesn't need to sit in the basement or attic or garage any longer, or get thrown in the trash.
Starting this week, they can be dropped off for free at participating Ace hardware stores and other locations.
Last year, when the project began, it collected 100,000 pounds of lights. This year it expects to double that amount.
The program accepts all holiday light strings, including those with large bulbs, minibulbs and newer LED lights. The program can also recycle any electrical cord, including telephone cords and extension cords.
Nearly 200 sites across the state, including participating Ace hardware stores, numerous elementary schools, city halls, churches and even a few liquor stores. An interactive map showing collection sites is updated weekly and available on the Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM) website at: www.recycleminnesota.org.
Cities, organizations, businesses or schools that want to host dropoff sites may also contact RAM. They can receive free recycling bins, signs and pickup services.
RAM works with local vocational centers who train and employ adults with disabilities. Workers separate the bulbs from strings. Bulbs are crushed, and their glass and metal are recycled. Copper is recovered from the strings. Most of the work is done by state recycling firms.
The RAM program will collect lights through Jan. 13. Some other retail stores may also offer holiday light dropoffs, but usually for only a week or two.
Organizers are encouraging consumers to purchase LED lights, which last longer and use much less electricity.
Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388