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Will County

There are ways to recycle Christmas lights, trees

Will County collecting unwanted holiday lights

A recycling bin at the Will County Office Building, 302 N. Chicago St., Joliet, is designated for collection of burned-out holiday lights. The bin is just inside the entry doors.
A recycling bin at the Will County Office Building, 302 N. Chicago St., Joliet, is designated for collection of burned-out holiday lights. The bin is just inside the entry doors.

JOLIET – While some have a specific annual routine for decorating their homes for the holidays, others aren’t so detail oriented.

The same could be said for removal of the decorations. Some take them down within a couple days after Christmas, while others leave them up until February.

But no matter when you take down your tree and lights, it’s best to dispose of them in a way that will protect the environment.

Will County has teamed up with municipalities that host recurring electronics recycling events to collect unwanted or burned-out holiday lights.

“In the spirit of the season, let’s give the Earth we depend upon a gift by recycling. String lights are one of hundreds of items we can keep out of our landfills while preserving our natural resources,” Will County Executive Larry Walsh Sr. stated in a county news release.

Permanent residential electronic recycling sites are open at the following times and places and are accepting Christmas lights:

• Joliet – 5 to 7 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 57 W. Marion St.

• Lockport – 6 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays at Lockport Public Works, 17112 Prime Blvd.

• New Lenox – 5 to 7 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at New Lenox Township, 1100 S. Cedar Road.

• Peotone – 5 to 7 p.m. the first and third Wednesdays of the month at the Peotone Police Department, 208 E. Main St.

• Romeoville – 5 to 7 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays of the month at Romeoville Public Works, 615 Anderson Drive.

Three county offices in Joliet also have recycling bins set up in their lobbies where residents can drop off lights. The Will County Office Building, 302 N. Chicago St.; Sunny Hill Nursing Home of Will County, 421 Doris Ave.; and the Will County Land Use Department, 58 E. Clinton St., will have bins on hand until Jan. 31.

There also are options for recycling live Christmas trees. The National Christmas Tree Association lists many ways to recycle trees, including creating a habitat for birds or fish, or soil erosion barriers.

The Forest Preserve District of Will County discontinued a tree recycling program this year after about 10 percent of staff retired in recent years and were not replaced, according to district spokeswoman Cindy Cain.

Christmas trees recycled through the Forest Preserve District were used as mulch on trails and as habitats for fish in some of the district’s bodies of water.

Waste Management will be collecting live Christmas trees in Joliet the first and second week of January. They are collected as trash, Waste Management Regional Public Affairs Director Lisa Disbrow said. In some municipalities, the trees are collected as part of yard waste pickup.

“It’s all according to the municipal contracts,” Disbrow said. “Some towns pick up [Christmas trees] as yard waste, some are collected as trash.”

The company asks that all ornaments and decorations are off the trees. Additionally, it accepts gift paper as recycling but not Bubble Wrap or holiday lights, which get tangled in equipment.

When recycling Christmas-related waste, break down cardboard boxes prior to disposal. For large boxes, Disbrow suggested placing them by the curb in the morning so you don’t advertise to potential thieves overnight what gifts may have been received at your home.

Some municipalities, such as the village of Plainfield, participate in a program called “At Your Door.” For an additional $1.15 a month on a utility bill, residents can schedule pickups of electronics and household hazardous waste.

Disbrow suggested visiting to learn more about the program and what holiday decorations could be accepted.



As habitat for birds: Place the Christmas tree in the garden or backyard and use it as a bird feeder and sanctuary. Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract the birds and they can sit in the branches for shelter.

As soil erosion barriers: Communities have used Christmas trees to make effective sand and soil erosion barriers. They were used in New Jersey to help recover from Hurricane Sandy.

As a fish habitat: Some parts of waterways lack a significant habitat, or structure, where fish can feed and reproduce naturally. Some organizations collect trees for this purpose.

Burning the tree in your fireplace is not advised.

Source: National Christmas Tree Association

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