Jan. 27 2011 12:00 AM

A look at the city’s annual holiday tree recycling program

Thursday, Jan. 27 — The city of Lansing collected nearly 1,000 used holiday trees from residents this month as part of its annual holiday trees collection program. But where do all these trees go?

Steve Chalker, recycling coordinator at Capital Area Recycling and Trash (an arm of the Public Services Department), said waste management company Granger composts the trees at its Wood Road facility north of Lake Lansing Road. The city then uses them for mulch in parks.

The city has collected holiday trees for a century. In 1991, it started recycling them. The collection starts on the first Monday of every January and usually lasts a week. This year’s collection was from Jan. 3-10.

The city pays Granger $5.05 to compost each cubic yard of trees. It will cost $606.05 to compost all of the trees collected this year, Chalker said.

Granger spokesperson Tonia Olson said her company has worked with the city on holiday tree recycling since 1992.

“We grind trees up, put them into piles and break them down into composting,” Olson said, adding that the process takes nine months to a year.

Chalker said the composted materials get put back into the earth to nourish newly planted trees and turfs in city parks.

“It’s good to be able to collect natural products for composting and return them to nature,” he said. “It’s better than putting trees in the landfill.”

But the number of trees collected has decreased year by year, Chalker said.

He couldn’t explain why, but he said residents should take advantage of holiday trees collection because it’s part of Lansing’s household recycling service, for which residents pay $57 a year.