H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Dec 26, 2012 9:25 PM by Hope Hanselman, KSBY News

Christmas trees will be recycled to create electricity for California residents

With the Christmas holiday over, many people are already thinking about getting rid of those trees.

But, good news is, they won't clog up landfills.

Turns out buying those real trees plants for holiday decorations isn't so wasteful. Some local waste management companies say, even after the holidays, those trees still serve a purpose.

The natural option has its perks- the smell, the tradition, those pesky little needles you're always cleaning up. But today, those trees start to lack luster.

"We usually take it down on New Year's Day, we don't like to keep it longer than that," Craig Orback, of Seattle, said.

So maybe these trees last you about a month, but when it's time to pull the plug, this is one gift that keeps on giving.

Wreathes and holly are already coming in by the truckload at Cold Canyon Landfill in San Luis Obispo. However, Lacy Ballard and his crew wouldn't quite call them waste.

"There's obviously pros and cons," Ballard said. "We here in San Luis Obispo do recycle it so it's a lot better than if it was going into the landfill."

A wood chipper mixes the holiday decorations with all the other wood waste in the county. Then, the material is shipped to an energy plant in California where it's burned to create electricity for the rest of the state.

So, after the warmth of holiday season, this tradition will burn for another cause.

"It's a lot better and more festive than the plastic trees that get reused over time," Ballard said.

Landfills in Northern San Luis Obispo County and in Santa Maria compost trees to make mulch.

They say a better option is to buy a tree that can be replanted after the holiday.

Cold Canyon Landfill invites you to drop off your tree yourself. Otherwise, city waste management asks you to chop your tree into small enough pieces to fit in your green "yard debris" bins.

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