San Francisco will send through a wood chipper Friday a bunch of Christmas trees outside of City Hall as part of an annual event to encourage residents to properly discard of their own.
City officials and trash hauler Recology will gather for the 33rd annual “Chipping of the Trees” to remind residents that they should put their trees out for pickup during the first two weeks in January when their trash is normally picked up.
“We want to make sure that trees are disposed of properly so they don’t end up blocking sidewalks and curb ramps or causing fire hazards,” said Public Works spokesperson Rachel Gordon. “If people put their trees out at curbside on their regular pick-up day, the chance of them causing problems is greatly reduced.”
Residents are supposed to place the trees next to their recycling bins the night before their scheduled collection day. For the holidays, those who have trash pick up service on Wednesday will have pick up instead on Saturdays since Recology didn’t do pick up on Christmas Day nor will it on New Year’s Day.
The trees should have everything removed from them before putting them out. That means no plastic bags, lights, decorations, tinsel or stands. Residents should cut in half trees taller than six feet.
Recology will send out special crews between Jan. 2 and Jan. 15 to pick the trees up. They expect to collect 500 tons of discarded Christmas trees.
“Recology will send dedicated Christmas tree collect trucks down every residential street in S.F. on regularly scheduled collection days during the first two weeks of January to just to pick up Christmas trees,” Recology spokesman Robert Reed said.
He added that “Christmas trees dry out and can be a hazard in your home.”
They haul the trees to Recology’s transfer and recycling station at 501 Tunnel Ave. near the former Candlestick Park. There, Recology feeds all the trees into a ginder, turning them into wood chips. The chips are then transported to Recology Blossom Valley Organics near Modesto where they are turned into mulch and sold for commercial projects or use in public parks.
“Christmas trees contain pine pitch. That makes it difficult to compost, but great for commercial landscaping projects because the pitch in the finished mulch helps suppress weeds at landscaping projects,” Reed said.
Trees improperly discarded will have to get picked up Public Works crews or Recology much like other illegally dumped material, but Gordon said, “if people put them out for curbside tree recycling as directed, we can ensure that they’ll end up as earth-loving landscaping mulch and not take up space in the landfill.”
“There’s no better time for San Franciscans to get a head start on a greener new year than by making sure their holiday trees are given a new life and purpose,” said Debbie Raphael, director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment.