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Christmas tree-cycling program kicks off, but not in Albany

ALBANY -- While Christmas holidays may be over, many residents may still have the ghost of the tree of Christmas past still lying in their backyards of garages.

"Bring One for the Chipper" is a statewide Christmas tree recycling program program that encourages residents to bring leftover holiday trees to local drop-off centers to be chipped.

The program, which is part of Keep Georgia Beautiful, will mark it's 19th year today as hundreds drop-off their Christmas trees to be chipped into mulch.

While other Georgians are dropping trees off today, Dougherty County residents will not have to go searching for a drop-off location any farther than their curbside, said Judy Bowles, Director of Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful (KADB).

KADB used to host a "Bring One for the Chipper" program like many throughout the state but have suspended the practice because Bowles says it is no longer needed.

"With no extra effort on the citizens part they are already being environmentally friendly and participating in the program," she said.

Bowles said that public works already separates yard trimmings from household waste and mulch them in a separate landfill by state law.

"No matter what, they send a separate truck to collect yard trimmings like Christmas trees and put them through a chipper at the inert landfill," she said.

Bowles said that as long as residents put their Christmas trees by the curbside public works will pick it up.

Albany Public Works Solid Waste Superintendent Daniel Whigham said the agency chips up every type of yard trimming into mulch and places it in the Maple Inert Landfill Facility at 1012 North Maple St.

Whigham said the household garbage and municipal waste is placed in the Dougherty County Landfill while yard trimmings are placed in the inert landfill.

"The state required that the wastes be separated in September 1996 and we promised the community that this landfill would be an environmentally conscious landfill," he said.

Whigham said the inert landfill is good for the environment because everything placed in it can be broken down into mulch, which they have plenty of.

"We are constantly looking for people to use the mulch," he said. "They can come out here and get as much as they want for free."

The mulch generated from various yard trimmings are often used by gardeners, farmers and homeowners for fertilizer and landscaping.

Anyone can pick-up free mulch at the facility Monday - Friday from 8

a.m. to 5 p.m.

"It works just like a fertilizer," said Whigham. "It has all the natural nutrients in it."

The Maple Inert Landfill Facility generates approximately 16,000 tons of mulch a year from the city of Albany's yard trimmings.

Bowles said that suspending the Christmas tree chipping program has freed funds, time and effort for use in KADB's electronic recycling programs.

"I just didn't see any since wasting valuable resources on something that was already being done," she said. "We are going to grind them (the Christmas trees) into mulch anyway. The need is simply not there anymore."

Bowles said she is grateful to the city leaders for making the environmentally conscious choice of providing a inert landfill for Albany.

Residents in Lee County can still participate in the "Bring One for the Chipper" program at the Lee County Landfill at 759 Georgia Highway 32 West or at the DIG Garden Center at 847 U.S. Highway 82 West at Oakland Plantation.

Other residents can visit www.keepgeorgiabeautiful.org and type in their zip codes to find a drop-off location if they wish to recycle their Christmas trees.