Recycle Electrical Cable

Some recycling centers strip the rubber from the cords to reveal the precious metal underneath.

Those boxes of old Christmas lights, phone and extension cords finally have a purpose. Used electrical cords are accepted at specific recycling sites and some major retailers throughout the U.S. Recycling cables and cords is one more way to increase your environmental consciousness, along with recycling plastics, paper products and metals. Electrical cables are often constructed of many commonly recycled materials, such as metal and plastics, that are broken down and reused. (see ref 1) Does this Spark an idea?


1. Remove the lights from Christmas light cords. The electrical cables are recyclable but the lights are not.

2. Wrap the cords. Place the end of the cord in your non-dominant hand. Wrap the cord around your elbow and back into the non-dominant hand. Continue wrapping until you reach the end of the cord. Tie off the cord by looping one of the ends around the girth of the wrapped cord. Slip the free end of the cord through the looping to secure.

3. Locate a recycling center near you that accepts electrical cables. The Environmental Protection Agency provides a list of recommended resources for electronics recycling. See the resources section for details. Cables that contain metal wiring can be sold at scrap metal centers; however cables must be stripped prior to drop off. Use a wire stripping tool to strip the protective rubber or plastic covering from the wire. The tool is clamped onto one end of the wire. Grip the handle firmly while wiggling the stripper. When you break through the protective covering pull the stripper down the cable with one fast movement.(see ref 2)

4. Drop off your cables. Most electronic recycling must be dropped as pick up recycling services do not have the resources to sort recycled electronics.