Credit : Phototèque Veolia

Christmas trees are given a second life in Pécs

Posted on 11 April 2017.

In this Hungarian city, Veolia manages a wood and straw biomass plant that uses Christmas trees to generate heating for its production.

Christmas tree chips contribute to Pécs's heating network by fueling the largest biomass plant in Central Europe.

Every year, piles of Christmas trees abandoned after the holidays end up in dumps. This short-term but very large volume of waste cannot be composted. What can be done with these trees? In the city of Pécs, Hungary, the Pannonpower plant has found a solution to give them a second life and has organized their mass recycling since 2014.

The wood and straw biomass plant managed by Veolia is particularly innovative in terms of renewable energies derived from agricultural by-products, plant waste, and plants grown for energy production purposes. This cogeneration plant, which is the largest in Central Europe, provides combined electricity and heating for the 150,000 people who live in Pécs, the capital of the region of Baranya.

The abandoned Christmas trees are collected by the company Biokom (over 30 tons have been collected since 2014 every year). Veolia then chips them and converts them into energy. The Christmas trees are first crushed then mixed with other fuels. This is an essential step to avoid combustion difficulties, given the amount of resin in the fir trees.

This process of straw burning of the biomass plant meets 60% of the city's heat demand, i.e. 31,000 homes and 450 public buildings. The plant managed by Veolia Hungary fuels the largest 100% straw and wood biomass cogeneration heating network.

What about in France?

There are also several initiatives offering Christmas trees a second life in France. For example, in the City of Brest, the population is invited to crush its trees. Greeted by composting-mulching guides, residents can then take the chips home to use as a quality mulch. In Paris and Lyon, drop-off points (respectively 141 and 150) help avoid dumping in the streets. In Bordeaux, 26 containers, which were installed in 2015, have allowed 10,200 Christmas trees to be recycled into energy and compost. Finally, in the Landes, an original initiative recovers and recycles the Christmas trees to reinforce the dune ribbon along the coast.

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