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City of Corpus Christi program gives recycled Christmas trees a new purpose

Corpus Christi Solid Waste Services will turn recycled trees into mulch through early January.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The City of Corpus Christi is offering a way to not only get rid of your Christmas tree, but to give it a new purpose.

Solid Waste Services is collecting Christmas trees 24 hours a day outside the J.C. Elliot Collection Center. The trees must be real, not artificial, since they will be ground into mulch.

“This a good way to take a real tree, a live-cut tree and recycle it responsibly,” said David Lehfeldt, director of Corpus Christi Solid Waste Services.

Lehfeldt said the Christmas tree recycling program begins before Christmas and ends soon after the new year. Stands, lights and ornaments need to be removed to avoid contaminating the mulch when the trees are ground up.

“Glass ornaments would pose a safety hazard," Lehfeldt said. "So we just want to make sure that what we’re doing is both environmentally responsible and safe for our customers.”

Lehfeldt said some trees are dropped off incorrectly, so he asks that only the tree is discarded to avoid contamination. Richard Garza dropped off his tree for the first time this year, since the Walmart he usually drops it off at was not collecting them this year.

“I drove by there this morning and they didn’t have one," Garza said. "So, I told my wife I’ll just take it to the dump.”

Paul Loria, who works for Newcastle Homes, said residents on Padre Island are disposing of their trees in their dumpsters.

“I get people throwing their furniture, their wardrobes, whatever they don’t want," Loria said. "They end up putting it in our dumpsters and now that it’s Christmas season, well they’re done with their tree and now they want to dump their trees.”

The trees cause the dumpsters to fill up faster. Loria said it costs $450-500 to clear the trash every one to three weeks. He hopes people knowing where to properly recycle their trees will help keep costs down.

“That’s why we’re trying to educate the population that there are places that are specifically put in place for that,” Loria said.

Lehfeldt said the recycling bin at the collection center is emptied daily--sometimes more than 500 trees are recycled a day. He said it is illegal dumping to discard trees on the side of the road. The city's tree recycling service is free.

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