How are they recycled? According to an article from BrightHub.com, "When your lights are received in a recycling center, they are sorted. The loose bulbs and other unrecylcable materials are discarded. The sorted light strings are then sent through a shredder which chops the lights, wires and plastic into very small pieces. They are then separated by the various elements that make up the lights, such as copper, glass and plastic. These materials are then shipped out for further processing and turned into new items."
There are many mail-in programs that will recycle your lights for you. Most provide a 10% or 25% discount on the purchase of new lights and some give the recycling proceeds to Toys for Tots or other charities.
Here are some of my favorites:
5 Star Holiday Decor Light Recycling Program (www.fivestarholidaydecor.com)
Christmas Light Source Recycling Program (www.christmas-light-source.com)
Holiday LEDs.com Christmas Light Recycling Program (www.holidayleds.com)
How do you recycle your Christmas lights?