Hanging up lights around the holiday season is practically a requirement for those looking to put their festivities on display. Although, when those lights get old, or you decide to make the switch to energy efficient LED holiday lights, we want to help you be smart about disposing of the string lights that are forever sentenced to your storage unit, or worse, the trash. Instead, recycle your old lights with Pro-Act’s holiday light recycling program!
Pro-Act is non-profit organization dedicated to serving people with disabilities and other barriers to employment and community inclusion. Among Pro-Act's many services is a one-of-a-kind statewide holiday light recycling program in Minnesota. Residents can drop-off their unwanted light strands at participating locations during the holiday season starting November 15 and running through the end of January. In addition, there are several locations around the Twin Cities metro that serve as year-round drop-off locations, including the Dakota County Recycling Zone in Eagan.
(Dec 1 - First week of February 2019)
How to Recycle Aluminum Foil and Trays
Did you know that aluminum foil and trays are 100% recyclable? In fact, they are just as recyclable as aluminum cans! The problem is, not all recycling centers accept foil and trays due to the fact that they often contain food waste which can contaminate collection. This leads to a reusable material ending up in a landfill where it takes about 400 years to break down.
How To Recycle Batteries
From lithium ion to alkaline to zinc-carbon, there are many different types of batteries that you may encounter every day in your home. But do you know what to do with them?
In many cases, you are able to bring your batteries directly back to the retailer. In Dakota County this includes but is not limited to: Target, Walmart, Home Depot, all car parts stores, Best Buy, RadioShack, Sams Club, Staples, Batteries Plus, and Lowe's.
Also known as a rechargeable battery, these batteries have become extremely common due to their convenience and cost savings. However, they do contain hazardous materials and are illegal to dispose of in your household garbage bin. Instead, place tape over the terminals and bring them to a retailer or the recycling zone to dispose of them for free.
Alkaline batteries are another very common household battery and come in many shapes, colors and sizes. Perhaps the common is the gold and black battery with the word “alkaline” written somewhere on the battery. These types of batteries can be disposed of in your household garbage bin, but they do contain valuable materials so it is better to bring them to The Recycling Zone to be recycled. These batteries are not accepted in your curbside recycling bin because they are too small and often get lost in the process or fall through the cracks in the materials recycling facility. When it comes to batteries, if in doubt- bring it to The Recycling Zone.
Automotive batteries, also commonly referred to as lead-acid batteries, are large square lead blocks. These batteries are a type of lithium ion batteries and are illegal to dispose of in your household garbage bin. Instead, you can recycle them at your local automotive store, or take them to The Recycling Zone in Dakota County.
Nickel-cadmium batteries are another type of rechargeable battery that uses nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium instead of lithium. These batteries are also illegal to throw away in your household garbage and must be disposed of responsibly either through a retail store or by bringing them into The Recycling Zone.
The Recycling Zone
3365 Dodd Road (South Highway 149)
Eagan, MN 55121
For more information about materials accepted and hours, visit our Recycling Zone guide.
Battery Handling Tips
- Store batteries in a vented plastic bucket or sturdy cardboard box away from light bulbs and other breakable items
- Tape the terminals with electrical or plastic tape to prevent short circuiting
- Older batteries may rust and leak. If a battery appears to be dirty or have a film around the terminals, use caution and do not touch the areas leaking.
- Always wash your hands after handling batteries or use gloves to prevent touching hazardous materials
How To Recycle Plastic Bags
Most plastic bags are made with materials that are recyclable, unfortunately this doesn’t mean they can go into your curbside bin. This includes grocery store plastic bags, zip lock bags, newspaper cover slips, bread loaf bags, and anything similar. Why? Because due to their size and shape, they end up clogging machines at recycling facilities. It just takes one bag to get caught and bring the entire operation to a halt, requiring an employee to remove the bag by hand; a time consuming, and possibly dangerous task.
So what do you do with them?
Most retail and grocery stores offer free plastic bag drop-off bins for guests to use. Just take them there on your next trip! All you need to do is make sure it’s clean and remove any rigid parts including zippers, firm handles, and/or string ties. And of course, always try to reduce first by only taking plastic bags if you really need them.
Stores that offer plastic bag recycling at all locations
Cub Foods, Target, Whole foods, Walmart (super-centers), Rainbow Foods
*Some locations of Lunds & Byerlys, JCPenny’s, and Lowe’s also offer plastic bag recycling
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I put my recyclables in a plastic bag to prevent machines from clogging-can it be recycled then?
Unfortunately no, the first step at many of these facilities is to sort the recyclables from any waste that might have found its way into the stream. If a recycling facility member sees a tied plastic bag, they most likely will assume its trash and throw it away.
What kind of plastic bags can’t go in curbside-is it just plastic grocery bags?
NO plastic bags (zip lock, grocery, film, newspaper slips, etc.) should go in curbside recycling. Take them to a retail location instead.
Do all recycling/trash companies have the same rules?
No, they do not. Some will accept things that others will not however, there are currently no haulers that accept plastic bags through curbside collection. Check out our curbside guide to see what your hauler collects!