Christmas has come and gone, but the trees and lights from across the city have to go somewhere.

Rockwood Sustainable Solutions is hoping to collect as many of them as possible to benefit local landscaping projects, power Lebanon’s wastewater treatment plant and even help adults with autism find employment.

“We’ve put a container out right off the road,” Rockwood owner Lincoln Young said. There’s a pull-off so it’s safe, and we have it marked. We’re going to run it through Jan. 11, because we normally try to do it for two or two-and-a-half weeks.”

Members of the public can use the tree and light drop-offs at 510 Hartmann Drive at any time of day until then. Only real Christmas trees are accepted, and the lights and ornaments must be removed.

“All the trees will be ground, and we use it to make mulch, compost and fuel materials,” Young said. “Another option is the city of Lebanon has a gasification unit that works to power the wastewater treatment plant in Lebanon, so some of it goes toward that.”

The lights are sent out to Electronics Recycling Solutions in Gallatin because they have value on the scrap market. ERS hires people with autism to recycle items ranging from computers and cell phones to appliances and cables, which the company has identified as a need to reduce the U.S.’s fastest-growing waste stream.

“This is our fourth year,” Young said. “It started as a vision from Mayor (Randall) Hutto because he was looking at what could be done with the local Christmas trees … each year it seems to grow. Our first year we collected about 60, our second year about 100 and last year about 175.”

Christmas lights were added into the mix for the first time last year, and Young hopes to see a similar growth pattern for them.

“Last year was decent,” he said. “We didn’t count the strands or anything, so I don’t have a quantitative number, but it went decent enough that we were able to bring a whole box to ERS.”

Hutto said the partnership with Rockwood has been helpful throughout the community. Materials from the trees have been used in projects for multiple county-owned buildings, as well as the Wilson County Fairgrounds.

“It really went well last year, and it’s catching on throughout the county as more people realize we’re doing it,” he said. “That’s a win for recycling, a win for Rockwood and it’s a win for Wilson County.”

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