A chip off the ol’ green
by RICK NORTON, Associate Editor
Dec 31, 2012 | 1247 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chipping of the Green
CHIPPING OF THE GREEN CREWS are providing appropriate goodbyes for homeowners who are discarding their Christmas trees. Evergreens are being chipped into mulch through Saturday, Jan. 12. Above, from last year’s Chipping of the Green, Bob Combs, left, and Frank Fritts, right, operate the machinery. File photo, DONNA KAYLOR
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Saying goodbye is never easy, but knowing it’s for a good cause can sometimes take away a little of the pain.

As homes in Cleveland and Bradley County are slowly liberating burdened, yet vibrant Christmas trees from the colorful ornaments, blinking lights and glittering tinsel of the Yuletide season, the creators of Chipping of the Green are waiting offstage for a chance to recycle them into nutritional mulch; at least, the real trees.

The artificial variety can go back to a box and into the attic for next year.

“Recycling your Christmas tree not only makes good environmental sense, it’s also free,” said Cheryl Dunson, executive vice president of marketing for Santek Waste Services Inc.

Thanks to a partnership between Santek, the Bradley County Commission, the county mayor’s office and the Bradley County Road Department, it’s also easy.

All residents have to do is remove the decorations from their prize cedar, fir, pine or other evergreen, and haul it to either of three locations: the Bradley County Landfill, the Peerless Road Recycling Center or the Urbane Road Recycling Center.

The Road Department is furnishing a commercial chipper that is being used at the landfill to whittle away at the discarded trees until their remains can be wheeled away free of charge by area residents who need some aromatic mulch for their carefully landscaped flower beds or favorite garden spots.

“We encourage as many as possible who have used live Christmas trees, and who have removed all the ornaments, to please consider giving their tree an environmentally fitting farewell,” Dunson said.

Christmas trees make excellent mulch and most importantly Chipping of the Green keeps them out of the landfill.

This season’s Chipping of the Green will continue through Saturday, Jan. 12. This represents a whole additional week over last year’s evergreen-shredding campaign. The intent is to give residents more time to bid adieu to their temporary living room companions.

It’s a convenient process because those discarding their old trees aren’t restricted to delivering them to the landfill or recycling centers during operating hours. They can be left at the gate, even if it is locked, and the dropped-off trees will be hauled to the landfill for chipping.

“Residents can just drop their trees outside the gate at the recycling centers regardless of whether we’re open,” Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said. “We’ll make sure they get transported to the landfill where they’ll be chipped.”

Operating hours for each of the three locations include:

1. Bradley County Landfill on Pleasant Grove Road: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

2. Urbane Road Recycling Center: Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 1:30 to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

3. Peerless Road Recycling Center: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 1:30 to 5 p.m.

Dunson said Santek and its Bradley County partners continue to work to promote Chipping of the Green, and to make the community aware of its importance and convenience. The program has been around for several years. It has a group of loyal supporters at its core, but overall participation is limited.

The Santek executive and county mayor are hoping this will change.

Other communities across America have caught on to this end-of-season chipping opportunity. In some towns, it goes by another name although the word “chipping” is a popular descriptor in many.

Even the National Christmas Tree Association helps to promote such season-ending disposal of the trees their group members helped to grow.

“Tree recycling and mulching programs are a fast-growing trend in communities throughout the nation,” the NCTA website declares. “They chip and shred the trees, then make the mulch available for use in gardens.”

NCTA also points to the importance of Christmas tree farms.

“... For every Christmas tree harvested, as many as three more are planted which helps to counteract possible greenhouse effects, produces oxygen and provides a habitat for wildlife,” the organization’s website states.

Another strength to Chipping of the Green is it helps to promote the start of recycling and conservation programs locally. Christmas trees come only once a year, but other opportunities for resource reduction come daily.

According to a joint statement between Santek and the county mayor’s office, “Year-round, [all three recycling] sites accept glass, aluminum, cardboard, mixed paper and newsprint. The Peerless Road Recycling Center also accepts electronics and all types of plastics; and the landfill also accepts waste oils, lead-acid batteries and white goods.”

Additional information about Chipping of the Green or Bradley County’s recycling efforts may be obtained by contacting Dunson at 303-7107.