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Recycle lights, Christmas trees in Becker County

The family Christmas tree that was once plum full of Christmas spirit may be showing its age about now.

There are more needles on the floor than on the branches, and the sight of it could be a tad depressing.

So what do you do with that old Charlie Brown'er and the lights that never really worked on it?

According to the Becker County Environmental Office, you should leave it to them.

"Last year we started a program where we'd recycle Christmas lights," said Steve Skoog, environmental services administrator, "so people can bring them into several drop off sites throughout the county."

Those places include Beug's Ace Hardware Store, Boys and Girl's Club Thrift Store, third floor of the Becker County Courthouse, either of the Becker County Transfer Stations or the Becker County DAC (Developmental Achievement Center) Workshop.

Skoog says DAC workers, who are employed by the county, then go through the strings of lights, bulb by bulb.

"They pull out all the bulbs, and the rest goes into a container that we ship to a company that melts them down," said Skoog, "and then they pay us per pound for that, for the copper wire."

Skoog says because the program was new last year, the amount collected was relatively low.

"But I do know that we've already collected as much, if not more, than we did all of last year, so we anticipate that amount to probably double this year," said Skoog, who says the money made from the recycled lights goes towards paying the DAC workers.

He says while it isn't illegal to throw Christmas lights away in the regular trash, handing them over to the county helps support disadvantaged workers at the DAC.

"It's a means of putting together a waste product, which would normally go to our landfill and is a direct cost to our society, and recycling them and keeping some of that money locally," said Skoog, "it's a good thing."

Bins will be picked up sometime around the middle of February.

Christmas trees

Most people realize that to burn a Christmas tree within city limits will surly get you in trouble with the law, but few realize that in the hands of the right people, that old Christmas tree is truly power.

Steam power.

When the trees are dropped off at the Becker County Transfer Stations (for free), they are chipped up.

Skoog says the county has a deal with a company down in Benson, Minn., that burns turkey manure.

"And along with that turkey manure, they put 50 percent wood chips," said Skoog, "they burn it in a boiler, and then the stream is used to generate electricity ... they run a turbine."

And the spirit of Christmas lives on in the hearts of environmentalists everywhere.

Skoog says another option is to drop the trees off at any area brush site to be burned.

"We've got one at the North 59 transfer station; Lakeview has a couple, Cormorant, Lake Eunice, Frazee ... each city has their own brush site," said Skoog.

For more information, call 846-7310 or email questions to recycle@co.becker.mn.us.

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