Think Fargo, but without all the blood.

San Francisco officials brought a little piece of North Dakota to City Hall plaza on Tuesday for its Christmas “treecycling” event.

Enter the wood-chipping machine. To demonstrate what will happen to trees gathered from curbs starting Jan. 2, officials shaved about a dozen of them into wood bits, so they can be converted into energy. The wood chips are cooked to create steam that generates electricity.

“You can’t help in the holiday season but to think about that scene from Fargo, which is kind of terrifying. This is a little more tame, and it smells a lot better,” U.S. EPA regional administrator Jared Blumenfeld said at City Hall.

San Francisco’s Christmas tree recycling program is in its 25th year. Last year, the city collected 514 tons of wood chips.

In San Francisco and Oakland, trees will be picked up between Jan. 2-13, on regular collection days. San Jose residents have until Feb. 3 to put their trees out on garbage-collection days.

Watch this video, and you’ll know Christmas is really really over.


Vinnee Tong

Vinnee Tong is a producer and reporter at KQED.

She's the producer of Truth Be Told, the KQED special series on race and identity that is distributed nationally by Public Radio International. Vinnee has also worked as an on-call producer for KQED’s live public affairs program Forum. Prior to joining KQED in 2011, she was a reporter covering business news at the Associated Press at the start of the Great Recession.

Vinnee has won several awards for her reporting work, including an RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award for coverage of fracking in California, as well as awards from the New York Press Club and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and son.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor