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How to Recycle Lights

Where are the Programs and Places to Recycle Light Bulbs and Christmas Lights?


LED light strands are clearly the smart way to go, but what do you do with those old Christmas lights? First off, do not discard them in the trash. Light recycling programs know what to do with old, used and even broken incandescent holiday light strings. We've tracked down places and programs that will recycle Christmas lights, incandescent light bulbs and strings. Some offer free trade-ins or discounts on new LED holiday lights. Take the time to recycle!

Still up in the air about buying LEDs? 10 Reasons to Make the Switch to LED Christmas Lights

Christmas Light Source

picture of led xmas lights
Photo © Lisa Hallett Taylor
Christmas Light Source accepts broken lights for recycling year 'round. All recycling proceeds are donated to Toys for Tots.

Concerned about what to replace them with? Peruse our list of the Best LED Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights Energy Costs Calculator

Want to know how much electricity your holiday lights use? If nothing has convinced you to switch to LEDs, this calculator may do the trick.

Holiday Leds Christmas Light Recycling Program

What happens after Holiday LEDs receives your lights for recycling?
  • The lights are removed from packaging, which is then recycled
  • The lights will be processed. Any material that can't be recycled (i.e. loose bulbs)is discarded
  • When a substantial number of lights have been collected, they are taken to a third-party recycling facility in Jackson, Mississippi.
  • The lights go through a commercial shredder, which chops the lights up into small pieces
  • The pieces are then further processed and sorted into separate components that make up lights (pvc, glass, copper)
  • Materials are separated and transported to a regional center for further processing. In some cases, the pvc cannot be recycled

Send in your old Christmas lights (incadescents) for recycling, and HolidayLEDs.com will send you a coupon for 25% off LED Christmas lights ordered from its site.

Home Depot Light Recycle Program

home depot lightshow holiday lights
Photo courtesy of Home Depot
Home Depot's widely advertised holiday light exchange program is held annually, usually in early-to-mid November. Consumers can bring in their old, broken or used incandescent holiday light strands and receive a coupon for Bring in your old, broken or used incandescent holiday light strings to your local The Home Depot store for $3 to $5 off an in-store purchase of LED holiday lights. Limited to five discounts per customer.


ikea led holiday lights
Photo courtesy of IKEA
IKEA furniture stores recycle CFLs at no cost at their store locations. From the IKEA website: We know recycling isn’t always simple, but because many low energy bulbs contain mercury it is important to bring them to a proper recycling facility. So, when it’s time to dispose of your bulbs let us take care of the dirty work. Just bring your old bulbs to your IKEA store, deposit them in the provided bin, and we’ll do the rest! If you prefer to take the bulbs to your local recycling station just remember to handle the bulbs with care.

The (after) life of a light bulb

The different materials in the bulbs are sorted by the recycling facilities and reused when possible. The powder inside low- energy bulbs can be reused in new bulbs, while glass and metal can be used to make fiberglass, which can be found in many things from insulation to boat hulls. Mercury from low-energy bulbs can also be reused in new bulbs.

Residential Lighting State Laws

map of us light recycle program
Courtesy of Lamprecycle.org
Use LampRecycle's interactive map of the United States to find a light recycling program in your state. Programs and laws change periodically -- check for updates.

Southern California Edison Lamp Exchange

southern california edison
Photo courtesy of Southern California Edison
Southern California Edison's Lamp Exchange program includes an annual Holiday Light Exchange. All participants must be residential customers. They don't have to live in the city where the event is being held, but they must live in SCE service areas. Proof must be provided in the form of a valid California driver's license with a zip code falling in the SCE service territory or by showing a SCE residential bill.
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