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Question: What happens to the Christmas trees that are discarded after the holidays? I hope they aren’t tossed in a landfill.

Answer: The trees don’t end up in a landfill. Rather, most of them have a date with a wood chipper.

Municipal crews in the Fox Cities pick up Christmas trees that residents place by the curb and then run them through a chipper for reuse as wood mulch, either by the city or by residents.

Appleton, though, offers an alternative through its annual “Tree for a Tree” program. Appleton residents can take Christmas trees to the city’s yard waste site, 2625 E. Glendale Ave. In return, they receive a coupon for a white spruce seedling for every tree they bring to the site.

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Participation in the program is restricted to city of Appleton residents, but there is no limit on the number of trees that can be exchanged for coupons. Residents have been known to drive around the city to collect discarded Christmas trees to redeem them for a slew of coupons.

Todd Nett, Appleton’s public works operations foreman, said the program is cost-effective for the city.

“We’re not spending (money) on a big truck that’s getting 3 miles to the gallon with two employees to go pick them up,” he said.

Trees may be brought to the yard waste site from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from Jan. 6 to 23.

The coupons will be redeemable in the spring. The exchange dates will be announced in the Spring/Summer Appleton City Guide.

Nett said Appleton has offered the “Tree for a Tree” program for the 19 years that he’s been employed by the city. Participation in the program, though, has waned in recent years.

“From what I understand, years back they used to get like 7,000,” he said. “Right now, we’re probably down to about 2,000 trees that are brought in.”

Meanwhile, some of the Christmas trees collected by Neenah crews are donated to fishing clubs to mark routes on the ice of Lake Winnebago. The others are chipped for mulch.

Neenah and Kaukauna will begin their curbside collection of trees on Jan. 9. Appleton will begin its collection on Jan. 16.

About Watchdog Q&A

Post-Crescent reporter Duke Behnke answers your questions about local government. Send questions [email protected] call 920-993-7176.

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