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City readies to recycle trees

Natural trees get a second life at biomass power plant

By: Amy Crofts

  |  Posted: Saturday, Dec 28, 2013 06:00 am

TREE-CYCLING – The City of St. Albert will once again be collecting used Christmas trees, which will be chipped then shipped to a biomass plant north of Westlock.
TREE-CYCLING – The City of St. Albert will once again be collecting used Christmas trees, which will be chipped then shipped to a biomass plant north of Westlock.
FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

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It’s hard to believe Christmas is already over and those stockings hung by the chimney with care just weeks ago, will look outdated by mid-January.

As Christmas lights are bundled, decorations packed and holiday leftovers eaten, the Christmas tree too must also come down.

Artificial trees can be boxed away for next year while real trees can either be recycled at home – repurposed into holiday decorations or crafts, mulched or incorporated into animal habitats – or recycled by the city.

As part of St. Albert’s Annual Christmas Tree Pickup program, Christmas trees will be picked up curbside from Jan. 6 to Jan. 17. Residents can place their Christmas trees at the curb on the same day as the waste collection day.

Christian Benson, waste programs co-ordinator with the city, said natural Christmas trees are still popular. City employees picked up an estimated 1,800 trees for recycling last year. The average is between 1,500 and 1,800.

Natural trees need to be free of plastic wrapping and stripped of decorations before being kicked to the curb.

Once city trucks pick up the trees, they are chipped at the compost depot and shipped to the Dapp power plant north of Westlock. The wood chips are then converted to combustible gasses, which then create electrical energy for sale on the power grid.

Local landowners then use the byproduct, wood ash, as a soil conditioner.

Benson said the wood chips will occasionally be composted with the rest of the organic material at the compost yard.

As for artificial Christmas trees, if they have come to the end of their lifespan, they belong in your garbage bin and not in your blue bag, he added.

“Typically they’re composite so they are made from more than one type of material … varying degrees of plastics and metals. We don’t recycle them.”

Residents can also drop off their Christmas trees at the compost depot, located three kilometres west of St. Albert Trail on Villeneuve Road.


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