Public Works Christmas tree dilemma - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Public Works Christmas tree dilemma

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December 26, 2007

Albany - - A major setback for the City of Albany's Public Works Department. Officials are trying to resolve it so that it doesn't affect you. This time of year, public works crews see a 25- 30 % increase in their workload because of holiday trash. Live Christmas trees make up much of that trash. But this year, there's something getting in the way of getting the job done as usual. 

You enjoy it during the holidays and usually by the new year, you throw it in the trash. That's when work crews come and pick up your Christmas tree and recycle it. But this year, they may have to work a lot harder.

Albany public works crews are hard at work, not just picking up extra trash, but also yard debris that goes into a landfill.

"This time of year we pick up a lot of debris, especially Christmas trees," says Director Phil Roberson.

To avoid sending it to the landfills, the city recycles tree parts into wood chips.

"Anything that we can recycle we try to do that. We don't want to use landfill for things that we can turn into mulch," Roberson says.

They use a heavy equipment tool called a tub grinder. But earlier this month, the Maple Hill landfill caught fire. It damaged the equipment.

"Unfortunately it was a total loss to our tub grinder which is what we use to recycle all of our tree parts, yard trash and that kind of thing so we don't have to put it in our landfill."

The city also owns smaller wood chippers that could do the job, but it would take a lot more time and manpower.

"Its not really set up for that. It doesn't have the kind of value of the chips to bring them down to the right size that the tub grinder would, but in a pinch it would work."

Roberson says Dougherty County will step in, offering its tub grinder to share until the city is able to replace its $500,000 machine.

So when you plan on ditching your tree, don't worry. Roberson says the work will continue.

"Even though they may put them out early, it may sit there for a few days before we actually start focusing on the 7th {of January}, but we will come by and pick them up at their residence at the normal collection point," he said.

The tub grinder is very important for the city. Many of you go to the landfill each day to pick up loads of mulch for free. The city also donates some of the wood chips to Proctor and Gamble.

Public Works says when getting rid of your trash and Christmas trees, be sure to put it all in a neat pile at the normal pick up point. Starting January 7th, the city will aggressively work to pick up all left over Christmas trees.

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