How Moline is recycling used Christmas trees and keeping an Illinois business warm

MOLINE, Illinois -- Moline public works is on a special detail this week. Crews are scanning residential neighborhoods for used Christmas trees to pick up for recycling.

"This time of year it's actually pretty nice in the garage," said Moline city truck driver John Covemaker. "We come in in the morning and the whole garage smells pine fresh."

The city expects to gather several thousand trees in a two-to-three week window. But what does it do with all those evergreens?

"We'll grind it up with other types of wood and ship it off as boiler fuel," said Midland Davis Corporation President Martin Davis.

By the truckload, the trees are dumped at the recycling center in north Moline and ground up into three-inch chips in a massive tub grinder. The chips are moved by conveyor belt into a walking floor trailer.

As the machine whirs, the air fills with sawdust and a rich evergreen aroma.

The wood chips are eventually transported to a company near LaSalle-Peru that burns them to keep its facility warm during the winter months.

"This is the first year we’ve ever ground up Christmas trees for the city," said Davis. "We’ve been picking up the curbside recycling for ten and a half years. This is the first time that this came up and we were happy to do it," he said.

The city of Moline says the new arrangement is a great way to make sure the trees can serve a purpose after the holidays.

"It's far better than going into the landfill and taking up that valuable space," said City of Moline Municipal Services General Manager Rodd Schick. "And that we do have this option available is a nice end to that tree's life," she said.

Click here to find out how to get rid of your real Christmas tree across the Quad Cities. 


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