<strong>Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News Group.</strong>
                                Sarah Bergquist of Waste Wise holds a pile of cords that have been recently donated at the Coupeville WSU Waste Wise location, totaling 140 pounds.

Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News Group. Sarah Bergquist of Waste Wise holds a pile of cords that have been recently donated at the Coupeville WSU Waste Wise location, totaling 140 pounds.

Recycling help available for Christmas lights, power cords

Waste not, want not. The WSU Waste Wise of Island County wants to help people make wise “waste” choices this holiday season by getting rid of unusable electronic cords in an environmentally friendly manner.

Don’t ever throw damaged holiday lights, computer cords or extension cords in the regular recycling, Sarah Bergquist, Waste Wise Program educator and coordinator, said.

When those items get brought to a recycling plant that’s not designed to take them in, it can shut down the whole facility if these items jam up machines or get tangled in conveyor belts, Bergquist said.

“Cords are definitely something you should not put in your recycling bins,” she said. “We can accept anything that’s designed to carry power. Christmas lights are the first one that comes to mind, but also phone, earbud wires, appliance cords and computer cords.”

WSU Waste Wise volunteers will be collecting these items through the end of January 2019 at various locations on Whidbey and Camano Island.

Local metal recyclers then get busy breaking down what people bring in. Saving the items from sitting in landfills, the recyclers can repurpose the cords.

“They granulate, shred it up and separate out the important natural resources — mostly copper — that can be recycled and put into new products,” Bergquist said. “Metals can be recycled again and again and again. That’s the nice thing about metals.”

This is the second year that the WSU Waste Wise has collected cords, with last year being a “trial run,” according to Bergquist.

Waste Wise volunteers first came up with the idea when trying to think of ways to reduce the impact of landfills.

“It was successful and we’re expanding,” she said. “We collected about a 1,000 pounds total of cords and lights for both Camano Island and Whidbey.”

Waste Wise is a waste reduction and sustainability outreach program.

“Our job is go out and help people learn ways that they can reduce impact on their environment,” Bergquist said. “And it’s also a really nice way to start out the new year, by recycling something.”

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