Mercer Island offers holiday tree recycling options

The city uses old holiday tress for future projects that require wood chips.

The city of Mercer Island recently began its annual holiday tree recycling service, allowing locals to drop off their trees behind City Hall for free.

The city has offered the service as an alternative to traditional tree disposal for the past few years in an effort to provide more sustainable choices for locals. Anyone can bring their undecorated holiday trees to the city public works shop, at 9601 SE 36th St., behind City Hall during daylight hours.

The service will run until Jan. 13 and all trees will be chipped for future use in city parks, trails and open space projects. Locals should remove the tree stand and all ornaments and lights before dropping the trees off.

It is an alternative to disposing of trees via the curbside yard waste service the city contracts through Republic Services. Curbside waste customers also can set their holiday trees out on a scheduled collection day, but must meet several parameters: the trees must be free of any ornaments or decorations, cut to four-foot lengths and tied into bundles less than two feet by three feet with biodegradable string or twine instead of nylon, plastic or any synthetic materials. The city adds that flocked trees (trees that are sprayed with fake snow) are not recyclable and should be put in the garbage.

“Many of us want to be better recyclers during the holidays, but we aren’t sure how or just don’t have the time,” said Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability at Republic Services, in a press release. “With a few simple steps during the holidays, we can all do our part to make environmentally responsible choices throughout the holiday season and help make a positive impact in our communities for generations to come.”

Annually, Republic Services offers several tips for consumers to recycle during the holiday season. This year’s tips include saving and reusing gift bags, ribbons and bows for next year, making shredded paper out of old newspapers and magazines, or reusing last year’s bubble wrap and foam peanuts, remembering that standard wrapping paper should be recycled but anything with glitter or foil belongs in the trash, and checking with local service providers for special instructions on recycling replaced electronics.

Additionally, Republic listed several holiday items that don’t belong in the recycling bin — bubble wrap, cellophane, holiday ribbons and bows, batteries, food waste, clothing and shoes, holiday lights, electronics and foam packaging.

“The holidays can be a hectic time for everyone,” said Don Tibbets, general manager of Republic Services, in a press release. “But, there are so many opportunities throughout the season to make simple, sustainable choices. We hope these tips will make it a little easier for everyone to incorporate sustainability into their holiday celebrations.”

Republic services has had a 10-year contract with the city that will expire on Sept. 30, 2019. The city initially attempted to negotiate a nine-month extension, but Republic declined the offer. The Mercer Island city council approved a new contract with Recology King County Inc. on Dec. 11, taking the previous expected rate increase of 29 percent down to 8 percent.

The city will begin to plan the transition to a new vendor which aims to include extensive communication and public outreach components. The 10-year contract with Recology will start on Oct. 1, 2019, and until then, Republic Services will finish out its contract.

Recology currently serves several of Mercer Island’s neighbors, including Bothell, Burien, Carnation, Des Moines, Issaquah, Maple Valley, SeaTac, Seattle, Shoreline and Seattle Public Schools.

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