Don't forget to recycle natural Christmas trees

info@islandpacket.comJanuary 1, 2014 

Don't forget to recycle your Christmas tree instead of sending it off to the landfill where it will take up valuable space.

Recycling is easier than ever this year, as Beaufort County has expanded its annual Christmas tree recycling program to 18 locations.

Just drop your natural tree off (artificial ones should be hauled back to the attic to await Christmas 2014) and it will be converted to biomass fuel, a cleaner alternative to coal, used by businesses.

Among other benefits, biomass fuel emits far less carbon dioxide than coal and is easier on the environment.

In previous years, the trees were ground into mulch. But the trees didn't make particularly good fertilizer, said Carol Murphy, the county's recycling coordinator. The county had a difficult time unloading it onto residents.

Other municipalities are finding that to be the case, too, and are getting increasingly creative.

In the Lake Hartwell and Lake Thurmond area, for instance, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is using trees to enhance fish habitat.

Old Christmas trees are tied into bundles, weighted with concrete anchors and submerged to provide cover for fish. They're particularly good for nursery habitat for juvenile fish, according to media reports.

And in other parts of the country, local governments are launching programs to encourage residents to recycle their burnt-out Christmas tree lights and upgrade to high-efficiency LED ones.

We're glad to see Beaufort County thinking outside of the box and making recycling easier than ever. We hope the community will support the effort.

Residents can get the locations of the county's 11 recycling centers at http://bit.ly/1a2n6Zm.

And for those who just have to have some mulch, it will be available on Hilton Head Island at U.S. 278 and Squire Pope Road and in Beaufort at the Naval Heritage Park on Ribaut Road on Jan. 11.

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