Christmas Lights recycled into slippers in China

Dec 27, 2011
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If you live in North America, chances are you've had a good time purchasing, stringing, taking down and ball wrapping, and next year throwing away Christmas Lights - as the video in this post will show, those lights don't always just go in a landfill, they get turned into nothing less strange than a pair of slippers! The video here shows a Chinese recycling factory that sits in the town of Shijiao, near Guangzhou, and they've got a yearly run-through of 20 million pounds of old Christmas lights per year. They chop them down, mush them up, and flip them out!

Like any good environmentally sound group of manufacturers do, this group of workers takes Christmas lights for what they are: materials that can be used to make products! What they do is take the lights untangled into small enough sizes that they can be tossed into the shredders they've got on hand. When they are shredded, they're turned into millimeter-sized particles and mixed up with water until they're made into a mud-like substance that's sticky enough to be near solid. Yuck! Then the fun really begins. As Adam Minter of The Atlantic regales:

“As the table shakes, the heavier flecks of copper (from the wire) and brass (from the light bulb sockets) flow in one direction, and the lighter plastic and glass (from the insulation and bulbs) flows in another. It’s the same concept that miners use when panning for gold, and the results of this updated, age-old technology can be found at the far end of the water tables: baskets of roughly 95% pure copper and brass alongside baskets of insulation and glass. The contaminated water, meanwhile, flows into a recovery system, where it’s re-circulated, over and over, through the recycling system.” - Minter

Does this seem like a job you'd like to have, smashing down Christmas lights with the resulting Christmas dust floating around the air for you to breath in as you create a lovely future in which all the strings are turned to slippers? I hope so! Taking the technology to recycle here on its own is what we hope to take away as a positive as we do not forget that it's impoverished ladies and gentlemen whose job it is to do the tossing. Merry Christmas and a happy lights toss, everyone!

[via MIC Gadget]


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