It's about the time of year where the dried carcasses of Christmas Past will begin to line the streets of San Francisco, waiting to be either burned on Ocean Beach or just settling into an extended period of rotting away.
But not this year.
From January 2nd through January 15th, Recology—San Francisco’s trash and recycling service—will be collecting derelict Christmas trees placed next to bins near the curb and running them through a giant wood chipper. The resultant product will then be used for mulch and, more interestingly, biofuel. The wood chips not used for landscaping are sent over to Woodland, CA, where they are burned in a boiler in order to create electricity. According to KTVU, about 50 trees were chipped in Civic Center Plaza today in an effort to spread awareness of the program.
Last year, Recology reportedly collected 539 tons of Christmas trees from the street. If that’s any indicator, the program this year will no doubt generate a great deal of power. The heat from the burning trees is used to heat up water and generate steam, which is then used to power turbines. These turbines generate energy that is then transferred to the grid, providing green energy available to the entire state.
All you have to do is place your unwanted Christmas tree out with the bins on your regularly scheduled pick-up day. Recology will first come by and collect your trash and recycling, then make a second pass later that day in order to snag your tree. According to Recology spokesperson Robert Reid, because it’s so dry right now, it’s really important that you put the tree out on your normal trash day in this fashion instead of just tossing it on the curb. Essentially, they are going to great lengths to ensure the trees are collected safely and swiftly so that we don’t wind up with a bunch of tinder lying around the streets of SF.
So make sure to place your undecorated tree out with the trash next week, along with the other hollow reminders of a season that’s passed. Who knows? Maybe next year they’ll figure out how to power a car on half-assed Halloween costumes.