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San Diego Pines For Christmas Tree Recycling

— It was the day after Christmas, and all through the Miramar Landfill you could definitely hear the stirring of a tree grinder. It wasn’t festive, but it was the beginning of San Diego’s annual Christmas tree recycling program.

Aired 12/28/12 on KPBS News.

The annual Christmas tree recycling program has started turning San Diego's evergreen icons into compost and mulch.

San Diego Environmental Services Department director Chris Gonaver stands beside a pile of Christmas trees that are waiting to be ground up and recycled at the Miramar Landfill.

This is the 39th year the city has practiced this kind of yuletide reuse. San Diego residents can leave their Christmas trees along the curb if they have curbside green-waste collection. If not, they can bring their trees to one of 16 temporary drop-off sites, which include the landfill itself. The trees will then be ground up and turned into mulch and compost.

Chris Gonaver, the director of the San Diego Environmental Services Department, stood next to an already large pile of cast-off Christmas conifers as he spoke to reporters at the Miramar Landfill.

“From today, Dec. 26, through Jan. 23 of next year we will have 16 drop-off locations for free Christmas tree recycling,” he said.

Ken Prue, who runs the department’s recycling program, said the locations of the drop-off sites can be found at their website. But he said if you’ve used drop-off sites in the past, you can expect to go to the same place this year.

A tree grinder expels ground-up Christmas trees as part of the annual recycling program.

“Maybe they’ve used the one at the parking lot at San Diego State or the one on Fiesta Island,” said Prue. “So hopefully people are in a pretty good habit. But we definitely have the information on our website.”

The drop-off sites are for use only by city of San Diego residents, though Prue said there wouldn’t be a lot of checking IDs.

Last year, Gonaver estimates the landfill’s greenery received 1,200 tons of Christmas cheer in the form of approximately 140,000 Christmas trees. This year he expects about the same amount will come through their recycling program.

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