Sam Baker had no idea where his Christmas tree would end up when he hoisted it into a bin last week at the Beaufort County Convenience Center in Bluffton.
"Really, I just hope it doesn't get dumped in a landfill somewhere," he said.
Thanks to a two-year-old county program, it won't.
Instead, it will become biofuel.
Discarded trees are being collected at trash centers across the county, and when the bins are full, crews from local company South Coast Logging haul them away, says county solid waste director Jim Minor.
"The company grinds (the trees) up," he said. "And (the ground product is) burned to make steam for industrial purposes or to create electricity at power plants."
Minor said the tree-recycling program, which has been in place since 2013, helps the environment.
"Forests are an important resource," he said. And by recycling trees for fuel, "we make sure we keep them a renewable resource."
In the past, the county would shred discarded trees into mulch as part of its Grinding of the Greens. But that program never gained much public interest, Minor said.
"People just weren't really picking up much mulch, so we would have to pick it up ourselves," he said. "We would spread it around county facilities and try to use it the best we could."
But that required more manpower and equipment.
By having a company take the trees, the county saves money, he said.
The trees get hauled away for free, and South Coast Logging gets the raw product it needs to make biofuel.
At the Bluffton trash center, Baker approved of the overhauled tree-recycling program.
"I don't really do any planting this time of year, so what do I need a bunch of mulch for?" he said. "So if (recycling trees into fuel) isn't costing the county a bunch of money, I'm all for it."
For more information on dropoff times and places for your Christmas tree, visit www.bcgov.net/recycle or call 843-255-2736.
Follow reporter Lucas High on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Lucas.