Clayton County Clean Energy District Encourages Recycling Old or Broken Holiday Lights

Update: Clayton County’s 2017 collection yield 90 pounds of collected old Christmas Lights!!

The Clayton County Clean Energy District is encouraging residents to recycle their old, broken, or unwanted holiday lights and switch to a higher efficiency LED brand. LED (light emitting diode) lights look and act just like incandescent bulbs but use 90% less energy. Energy efficiency is one of the main draws for LED bulbs, as well as their substantially longer lifespan. LED Christmas light manufacturers boast 75,000 hour lifespans. In addition, LED lights are more durable and are less of a hassle. LED’s do not have a filament so they don’t burn out,  they also do not require fuses.

Program Manager, Joleen Jansen with a Christmas Light Recycling Box at the Clayton County Register office, Elkader

Diverting Christmas lights from the landfill is important; without this recycling program they would be around for thousands of years in a landfill. The recycling process is done by separating the insulating plastic surrounding the valuable copper, brass, and glass. The byproducts are then used to make other objects like new wire, pipes, or other consumer products with the materials.

Recycling locations for your old string lights in Clayton county will be at:
Central Community School, Elkader

  • Clayton County Register, Elkader
  • Citizen’s Bank, Strawberry Point
  • DX Station (across from Volga Opera House)
  • Kuempel’s True Value, Guttenberg
  • Community Savings Bank, Guttenberg
  • Municipal Building, Guttenberg
  • Community Savings Bank, Garnavillo
  • Fisk Farm and Home, Monona


LED bulbs do not use a filament to produce light, it is a light emitting diode. This diode is more efficient and produces little to no heat even after being in use for hours. The filament in the incandescent bulb will eventually degrade to the point of breaking, when the bulb is no longer viable. While incandescent bulbs may have hundreds of hours of expected life, the LED equivalents estimate a life span of tens of thousands of hours. In addition, because the do not produce heat the LED lights they are less of a risk for causing a fire.

LED lights will also allow you to string more lights together. Typically one string of 70 LED bulbs will use 4.8 watts of energy. While one string of 100 incandescent bulbs will use 40.8 watts of energy. You can string up to 5 strands of 100 incandescent bulbs safely in one outlet, giving you 500 bulbs in total while using 204 watts. With LED you can safely string up to 43 strands of 70 bulb led lights in one outlet, giving you a total of 3,010 bulbs while using 206.4 watts.

The Clayton County Energy District is encouraging the recycling of old lights and upgrading to new more efficient lights. By switching to LED bulbs this holiday season you could see a return on investment in less than a year.