French Quarter residents on Wednesday are encouraged by city officials to recycle their Christmas trees in an effort to help restore Louisiana’s coastline.
Residents in the French Quarter, who are serviced by Empire Services, must place their trees at the location of their regular garbage collection before 4 a.m. on Jan. 8, said city spokeswoman LaTonya Norton.
Coastal restoration — producing barrier islands, marshes and swamps along the coast — is crucial to reducing incoming storm surge and flooding, according to the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA).
The CPRA estimates that, without mitigating action, the Louisiana coastline could use up to 4,120 square miles in the next 50 years.
The trees help slow erosion, trap sediment and provide a buffer to slow down waves while keeping them out of landfills, according to the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.
Only natural, unflocked trees that are free of all strands and trimming — including ornaments, tinsel, lights, tree stands, etc. — can be recycled, Norton added. Unflocked trees are those without artificial frosting.
Flocked and artificial trees and trees in bags, or trees with trimming that has not been removed, will be collected with garbage and transported to the landfill, Norton said, adding that trees should not be placed on the neutral grounds because it delays the collection process.
Many New Orleans residents are now in the process of disposing their trees following Twelfth Night, which signifies the end of the Christmas holiday and marking the beginning of the Mardi Gras season.
The effort to restore the coastline with recycled Christmas trees is a collaboration between the city’s Department of Sanitation and its solid waste contractors, the Louisiana National Guard and the city’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability, which funds the project, Norton said.
The agencies will work together to collect, sort and bundle trees, which will be placed in selected coastal zones, Norton said.
In 2019, more than 6,000 Christmas trees were collected in Orleans Parish after the holidays. They were airlifted by the Louisiana National Guard into Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge as part of a program to create new marsh habitat.