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It’s an idea that came straight off the trash heap.

“This project,” declared Kathryn Kellogg, “was born of my personal hate of seeing trees in a dumpster and seeing a tree lot the day after Christmas with all those leftover trees that will go to a landfill. It just made me sick.”

Kellogg has reason for such displeasure. After all, she’s a Kellogg--a member of the family that, for 65 years, has manufactured fertilizer and soil amendments. As corporate secretary of Carson-based Kellogg Supply Inc., it’s in Kellogg’s interest to look for new sources of business.

And these days, she’s looking at Christmas trees. Carson Christmas trees, to be precise.

Under a new program developed in conjunction with city officials and Western Waste, which picks up residential trash in Carson, Kellogg Supply will recycle the city’s trees into compost. Western Waste has agreed to pick up the trees--which must be free of metal stands, tinsel, ornaments and flocking--at the side of curbs Jan. 3-5.

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Carson Mayor Mike Mitoma said the program “marks Carson as a leader in the recycling effort in California.”

The composting program is similar to one already used in Santa Monica, also involving Kellogg Supply. But it is unlike most municipal Christmas tree recycling programs, in which trees are ground into chips that are used as fuel for boiler plants.

According to Kellogg, the Carson program will take the recycling one step further--full circle, so to speak--by converting the trees into a product that is “very comparable to rich Midwest topsoil.” It can then be used to help new plants grow.

The compost will not, however, nourish other Christmas trees. Kellogg says her company’s products are for the most part used in home gardens, on shrubs, lawns, rose bushes and azaleas.

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Those who do not live in Carson but want to put their old Christmas tree to good use can take the tree to one of seven Los Angeles recycling collection sites. In the South Bay, trees will be collected every day except New Year’s Day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Harbor Regional Park, Vermont Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway in Harbor City. The program ends Jan. 6.


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