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During the winter holidays, festive decorations and Christmas trees are popular, but come Dec. 26 and the weeks following, many Christmas trees are disposed of improperly, causing problems for the city and residents.
Disposing of Christmas trees can become a tricky task.
The Los Angeles Department of Public Works and the Los Angeles Department of Sanitation urge residents to make sure they dispose of trees promptly.
Kerjon Lee, public affairs manager at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works said tree recycling is important to the city for environmental and safety reasons.
“The main reason why the county and cities try to detour trees from being thrown away carelessly is because they take up unnecessary space in landfills,” Lee said. “By implementing recycling programs for Christmas trees, we are leaving more room in landfills and we’re able to get rid of the trees in an environmentally friendly way.”
Trees left at drop-off sites or for curbside pick up can be repurposed into compost, mulch or ground cover to help preserve other natural resources and reduce waste.
According to the Department of Sanitation, nearly 100,000 trees were recycled last year. They were used by residents for gardening and by the city staff for landscaping.
Lee noted that before a tree is left out or taken to a drop-off site, itshould be prepped using three-steps recycling process.
“It may seem obvious, but make sure to remove all decorations from the trees, cut trees over six feet tall, and for curbside pickup, place them either in the green bin or next to it,” Lee said.
Leo Martinez, director of sanitation for the Department of Sanitation said the department held an event Dec. 22 to demonstrate proper tree recycling practices.
Martinez noted the event was a great way for individuals to receive information about tree recycling, as well as to show attendees the proper way to cut and dispose of trees.
“We urge people to get rid of trees right after Christmas,” Martinez said. “If not by Christmas, then at least by New Years to avoid any fire hazards.”
More often than not, trees aren’t properly watered during the season and are left up for too long. According to the National Fire Protection Association, even a well-watered tree should be taken down after a month. Otherwise it poses a fire risk.
LAFD Captain Reight Meyer echoed Martinez and urged residents to care for their trees properly and dispose of them in a timely manner.
“If a tree isn’t hydrated it dries out and is much more flammable,” Meyer said. “Making sure a tree is hydrated during the season and that it’s disposed of properly is important.”
Meyer, who is assigned to Fire Station 29 at 4029 Wilshire Blvd., said the city offers alternative resources for residents other than curbside pickup.
“The city sets up bins every year so people can dispose of their trees properly,” Meyer said. “There will be a bin out front at our station and at others.”
Drop-off sites allow residents to take their trees to various drop-off locations that include parks and fire stations throughout the city. Martinez said these drop-off sites will only be available on Jan. 3 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and residents can go online at www.lacitysan.org/tree-recycle.htm to find the nearest drop-off site.
For information on curbside pickup services, incorporated areas of Los Angeles County can go online to dpw.lacounty.gov/epd/xmastrees/cities_2015.cfm to see when the county will be picking up trees. West Hollywood will have curbside tree pickups from Dec. 26 to Jan. 9 and requires trees over six feet tall be cut in half for pick up. For more information, visit dpw.lacounty.gov/epd/xmastrees/index.cfm.
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