01/06/2013 10:45 EST | Updated 03/08/2013 05:12 EST

Quebec City Burns Christmas Trees For Last Time

Quebec City will have to find another way to dispose of Christmas trees next year because the province will no longer allow municipalities to burn them — something it's been doing since 2011.

A subcontractor who picks up and disposes of the trees for the municipality stopped composting the trees because too many still had tinsel and ornaments on them, which contaminated the compost, according to city spokesman Jacques Perron.

For the past two years, the city has opted to incinerate the trees rather than recycle them.

After the Christmas season, the province will ban the incineration of discarded trees, which leaves Quebec City with a dilemma. It's preparing to launch its own composting program, but it won't yet be up and running by the end of 2013.

"We don't have any plans for what we will do in one year, but we have much time in front of us," said Perron.

Most major cities, including Montreal, Longueuil and Laval collect and recycle the trees. They are composted or set around outdoor skating rinks, to be used as windbreaks.

In Montreal, trees are sent to the Saint-Michel environmental complex where they are composted or chipped. Last year, the city collected more than 35,000 trees.

In Sherbrooke, the head of waste management Francis Lepage said hiring a company to pick up trees and properly dispose of them costs the municipality an average of $35,000 each year.

"The Christmas trees will generate biogas and leachate, so that's why we want to avoid sending them to landfills," said Lepage.

Most evergreen trees in Sherbrooke are composted or are turned into biofuel or essential oils.

Pickup days in Montreal

On the island of Montreal, trees can be dropped off at eco-centres.

All Montreal boroughs have also set up specific pickup dates for discarded Christmas trees.

Most boroughs ask that trees be removed from the curb when snow-removal operations are underway.

They also ask that people refrain from sticking trees upright in the snow in order to help crews differentiate between live trees and the ones headed for the wood chipper.

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