Christmas trees to be collected

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(AP)

(KTSF by Hellas Leung)

(BCN) Christmas trees in San Francisco will be used as biofuel as part  of the city’s 25th annual “Treecycling” program, which officials celebrated  with a “chipping of the trees” event outside City Hall today.

Recology SF will collect Christmas trees from residents beginning  in January in an effort to divert the fir trees from Bay Area landfills.

The company will pick up trees curbside, turn them into wood chips  and sell the chips to energy-generating facilities in Tracy and Woodland to  be used as biomass, said Bob Besso, Recology’s waste reduction and recycling  manager.

The private plants for cogeneration buy the wood chips from  Recology each year and while the wood chips have a low value, around $10 per  bone-dry ton, the profit goes to offset Recology’s cost of collection, Besso  said.

About 514 tons of Christmas trees were collected last year in San  Francisco and Recology does not hope to pick up more trees this year, Besso  said.

The company will pick up trees between Jan. 2-6 and Jan. 9-13 and  requires all trees to be free of decorations and manmade materials. Trees  should be placed at the curb next to a resident’s trash cart before 6 a.m. on  their regularly scheduled pickup day.

Kevin Danaher, outreach and communication program manager with the  San Francisco Department of the Environment, said that fir trees have a high  acid content and should not be mixed with regular compost.

Turning the trees into wood chips “is the best use, but this also  puts a lot of pollutants in the air,” Danaher said. Although the biofuel creates carbon dioxide and other  heat-trapping gases, allowing the fir trees to decompose produces methane and  21 times the amount of gases, he said. While carbon dioxide created by the biofuel facilities is better  for the air than the methane the trees would otherwise produce in landfills,  it is not the most sustainable choice, Danaher said.

Besso said the best option for the environment and air quality  next year is for San Francisco residents to rent native trees from  organizations such as Friends of the Urban Forest and then return the trees  to be planted in the city after the holiday season.

(Copyright 2011 Bay City News.  All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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