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As the holiday season is underway, the Village of Park Forest is collecting unwanted Christmas lights for recycling.
Area residents can dispose of their working and non-working string lights in the specially marked green collection bins inside Village Hall, 350 Victory Drive. The collection will continue through Jan. 19, 2024.
Sustainability Coordinator Carrie Malfeo said those lights go through a unique process when recycled.
"String lights are one of the biggest containments in your curbside recycle bin, so we're encouraging residents to bring their unwanted lights to Village Hall so they can be recycled properly," Malfeo said. "In fact, if you put these lights in your bin, they won't be accepted."
Malfeo said her department works with Gaby Iron & Metal in neighboring Chicago Heights to ensure the unwanted lights are correctly recycled. She said bulbs can be kept on the lights, but all packaging, such as bags or boxes, decorations, and other attachments (hangers, garland, etc.), should be removed before dropping off the lights in the recycle bin.
Malfeo added recycling is the preferred method of string light disposal, as it allows the metals and plastics in the strands to be reused in new products.
Recycling the unwanted lights reduces extraction costs, conserves resources, and saves energy, Malfeo said. She also recommends replacing faulty lights with LED lighting, which lasts much longer than conventional options and uses about a tenth of the energy.