Several options available for recycling your old Christmas tree

Stumped about what to do with your Christmas tree? (WRDW-TV)
Stumped about what to do with your Christmas tree? (WRDW-TV)
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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The presents have been opened, and it's time to take down all of those holiday decorations, starting with the dried out Christmas tree. There are more than a few options in our area if you're looking for a place to toss that old tree.

John Wideman, a park ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Thurmond, has been busy preparing for the annual Christmas tree collection project.

"We've been recycling Christmas trees at the lake for over 20 years now," he said.

Wideman says they use the trees for fish habitats in the lake to create an artificial reef.

Anyone is encouraged to bring their live Christmas tree with the decorations removed to Riverside Middle School in Evans between now and Jan. 9.

"It keeps them from getting dumped in the woods, it keeps them out of landfills, and they make fabulous fish habitat," he said.

But if you decide not to recycle your tree and just leave it out by the curb with the garbage, you still need to make sure you've removed everything from the tree first, like ornaments or lights, any tinsel or garland.

The City of Augusta won't pick up your live tree unless it's been stripped of decorations because the trees aren't just going on top of the landfill pile.

Clayton Smith, operations supervisor in the collections division for solid waste management, said, "All of the live trees that come in are ground up and used as mulch."

He says anyone is welcome to head out to the landfill and request a free bag of mulch as long as supplies last.

Before your tree makes its way to the landfill, it may need a little trim first.

"It needs to fall under normal yard waste regulations, so no pieces larger than 5 feet in length and 6 inches in diameter, which typically isn't going to be an issue for a Christmas tree," Smith said.

The city will pick your live tree up on the curb the same day as they pick up your yard waste, and if you want to get rid of a fake tree, you can put that out with your garbage on the second day of your trash service.

If you live out in the county, you can still bring your tree to the landfill, and if you load it yourself, there is no charge to turn it into mulch.

Home Depot in Evans says they can also help you out with that old Christmas tree. They've started accepting live trees stripped of your decorations. You can drop them off between now and Saturday, January Jan. 5, in the parking lot. On the 5th, they will grind all of the trees into mulch. Anyone is welcome to come by and pick up a bag for free as long as supplies last.

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