By Joel Hall
Local recycling agencies are urging Clayton and Henry residents to recycle their used Christmas trees through the state's "Bring One for the Chipper" program as soon as possible to avoid having to pay Refuse Control a fee to do it.
Both the Clayton County and Henry County recycling centers are hoping to get the majority of the trees by Jan. 5, so that the trees can be collected and turned into mulch for composting, which will also be available to residents free of charge. In exchange for their trees, residents can receive a free dogwood seedling at specific locations this Saturday, Jan. 5.
On Saturday, from 9 a.m., to 4 p.m., Keep Clayton County Beautiful will distribute dogwood trees to people at the Clayton County Recycling Center, Dixie Land Recycling Center, and the Home Depot locations in Morrow, Riverdale, Lovejoy, and in Atlanta on Jonesboro Road, just north of Forest Park.
Starting the same day, the Henry County Recycling Center will distribute 6,000 tree seedlings to those recycling their trees, until supplies run out.
Until Jan. 5, Clayton residents will be able to drop off their old trees at the Clayton County Recycling Center at 1430 Spur 138 in Jonesboro; Dixie Land Recycling Center on Highway 42 in Ellenwood; Tara Stadium on Battlecreek Road in Jonesboro; Suder Elementary on Jodeco Road in Jonesboro; Kemp Elementary on Folsom Road in Hampton; Riverdale Middle School on Roberts Drive in Riverdale, and any Home Depot store in the county.
In Henry County, used Christmas trees will be accepted at the Henry County Recycling Center -- located at 65 West Asbury Road in McDonough -- as well as any Home Depot store in the county.
People who miss the Jan. 5 deadline will be able to bring their trees to the local recycling centers and Home Depot stores for another week or two according to Edie Yongue, director of Keep Clayton County Beautiful. However, residents may have to pay out of pocket to dispose of their trees, if they wait, she said.
"They will have to call Refuse Control to pick them up for a fee," in about two weeks, said Yongue. "It won't cost them any money just to put it [at one of the drop off centers]. We can keep our county clean and from being obstructed with debris."
Yongue noted that another positive aspect of giving people a place to dispose of their old trees is that dead, dry trees present an extreme fire hazard.
"It's like kindling," said Yongue. "It makes a huge bonfire ... not good in a house."
James Hamm, director of Keep Henry County Beautiful, views the program as a way to give back to the environment.
"We try to encourage as much planting and composting as we can," said Hamm. "If you are taking something away, you should be giving something back."
Ram Krishnamurthy, store manager of the Jonesboro Road Home Depot, said, since Home Depot is the nation's largest seller of live Christmas trees, encouraging people to bring back their old trees is a situation in which "everyone wins."
"Recycling in any shape and form is good," said Krishnamurthy. "We harvest a lot of trees to sell to customers, so recycling is going right back to them."