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Recycled as wood chips or homes for birds, your Christmas trees will get a second life

Click to play video 'Montreal Christmas tree collection under way' Montreal Christmas tree collection under way
With the holidays over, the city of Montreal has commenced its annual Christmas tree collection effort. Global’s Brayden Jagger Haines reports – Jan 6, 2021

With the holidays over and the new year underway, Quebec families are kicking their used Christmas trees to the curb.

The city of Montreal has started its annual tree collection efforts.

Usually, the city says more than 25,000 trees each year are diverted from the dump because they are turned into wood chips used for energy recovery.

This year, with Christmas tree sales up due to the pandemic, the city is bracing for an increase, said Montreal city spokesperson Philippe Sabourin.

“This year, we expect to pick up a minimum of 30,000 trees just this January.”

Sabourin said that means the equivalent of 450 tons of trees will avoid being wasted in a landfill.

READ MORE: Kick it to the curb or save it for the birds: how to get rid of Christmas trees in Montreal

The pick-up is currently underway and will continue throughout the month of January.

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The city is asking people to check its website for pick-up dates according to their neighbourhoods.

Officials ask that trees do not impede sidewalks or snow removal work.

Furthermore, trees should not be wrapped in plastic, nor should be they be planted in the snow, so as to differentiate between healthy trees and those requiring disposal.

Residents can also drop off their trees at any of the city’s seven eco-centres.

READ MORE: Grinchy squirrels break beloved West Island Christmas tree’s 39-year streak

The Nature Conservancy of Canada says another option for your old Christmas tree is your very own yard instead of out front on the curb.

Andrew Holland, a spokesperson for the advocacy group, says recycling Christmas trees can offer a better — and safer — alternative to throwing them out with the trash. For example, he says, old trees can provide shelter to birds from blustery winter nights.

“In a lot of places in Canada, your Christmas trees just end up in the landfill,” Holland said in an interview Wednesday. “That’s not really good because they catch fire and produce gas. It’s just not good for the environment.”

READ MORE: Farmers anticipate a record year for Christmas tree sales

Families can decorate the backyard trees with strings of peanuts or even pack the branches with suet so birds can have a snack while they seek refuge from the cold. “We decorate it inside,” he said. “Why don’t we take the kids and the family can go decorate it outside?”

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The old Christmas trees may be used by common birds, such as goldfinches and chickadees, Holland said, as well as other birds that don’t migrate to the Carolinas or South America for the winter.

Holland said old Christmas trees will improve the soil once they decompose in the spring, providing a habitat for other animals as the months wear on. Toads and insects will also seek shelter in the trees, he added, either under branches or inside trunks.

READ MORE: Christmas trees are for the birds: Nature Conservancy says keep old trees in backyard

— With files from Canadian Press