Iowa Christmas Trees Find New Life as Compost

1/9/2013

Thousands of Christmas trees that lit up central Iowa homes for the holidays are heading to a compost center where they'll be ground into mulch. An estimated 7,000 pine, spruce and fir trees will be collected from metro-area curbs and hauled to a center where an industrial-sized wood chipper will grind them into mulch, Metro Waste Authority officials said.

TNT Landscaping is one of several Iowa companies reaping the organic benefit of a rich compost, or "black gold" as some call it, derived from the recycled holiday trees and yard waste. "People refer to it as black gold basically because it really adds nutrients and helps your plants a lot," said Wram, who will receive a truckload of the compost at his nursery in the spring. He uses the soil conditioner in his garden at home and many of TNT Landscaping's potted plants.

Metro Waste began the Compost It! program in 2001. The program emerged after Iowa banned yard waste-including Christmas trees, grass clippings, branches and leaves-from landfills in 1991. Over the past five years, Metro Waste has annually collected an average of 169 tons of winter waste to be composted.

Thirteen Des Moines metro-area communities partner with Metro Waste Authority for the Compost It! program, which requires residents to place a sticker (available at most grocery, hardware and convenience stores for $1.15) on their bare Christmas tree that's placed on the curb. The trees will be picked up off the curb on regular garbage pick-up days through Jan. 11.

During this time, residents can also put other properly bundled winter yard waste on the curb for pickup. This will be the last Compost It! opportunity for metro residents until April.

You can read the full article from The Des Moines Register here