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[EN IMAGES] Here’s what happens to your tree after you collect it

[EN IMAGES] Here’s what happens to your tree after you collect it

The Christmas trees placed on the edge of the street in Montreal will live a second life for the first time this year, as they will be used to make essential oils. Newspaper I was able to go through this process which allows for almost 100% revaluation of this holiday code.

1) In the Multi Recyclage yard, hundreds of conifers pile up in mid-January. After the festivities, this is where the Christmas trees from 12 of Montreal’s 19 boroughs end after being shredded and collected.

Martin Cloutier, Head of the Sorting Center in Laval, looks at the Mountain of Trees together with General Manager, Guillaume Lang Demers, with particular pride this year.

Before that, we sent the trees to burn [pour produire de l’énergie]But here, we are really giving them a second life.”

The fir trees, which account for about 150 tons, will eventually be made into essential oils thanks to a new partnership with Arbressence. Even organic waste will be used to enrich the soil of meat farms.

2) Once the trees are unloaded by a truck, a mechanical shovel is activated to deposit them by handfuls into a fast crusher.

“She eats everything, this machine. No Christmas tree is too big for her,” Martin Cloutier said, during the fanfare.

The debris is then transferred by conveyor to a 10-tonne red-and-green container that fills at full speed.

3) The quick chopper can cut down the tree in just seconds. New, such a giant costs about a million dollars.

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4) After the greens have run through the shredder, only twigs, needles, and sawdust up to four inches are left. The scent of the tree is so strong that it seems like Christmas if you close your eyes.

5) The trees are reduced to chips that are pressed for transport to Blainville, about twenty kilometers away.

6) The plant debris is unloaded at Arbressence, which specializes in treating conifers.

Since 2003, the small company founded by Yannick Rudolf Bennett has been producing essential oils and other environmentally responsible products made from scraps that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

7) Staff fill distillation tanks.

8) These huge vats make it possible to produce essential oils through the extraction process via steam distillation.

For six hours, the plant debris is heated, producing a vapor that contains the essential oil molecules.

The vapors then condense and return to their liquid form, “like droplets on the lid of a boiler,” as Mr. Rudolph Bennett describes.

9) The slightly turbid liquid that comes out of the tube consists of essential oils and an aqueous solution, that is, water infused with aromatic fragrances.

After only a few minutes of decanting, the two liquids separate.

The co-owner of Arbressence estimates that about 50ml of essential oil can be extracted from balsam fir, as we find it in our living rooms at Christmas.

“But it’s not an exact science!” Laughs.

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Last year, his company produced about 200 liters of essential oils from 400,000 fir trees.

The majority of these are balsam fir (Abies balsamea), but occasionally a few fir and Fraser fir are slipped into the mix. Unsold Christmas trees from producers are also recycled.

And if Boxing Day is a particularly busy time, logging companies offer a year-round supply of branches.

10) Arbressence has a full line of products that will continue to grace homes in the form of soaps, home fragrances, or essential oils.

“Sometimes, I have clients come in to get essential oil from their tree!” says Yannick Rudolph Bennett.

He also counts among his clients many health resorts as well as pharmaceutical companies.

The remaining organic residue is then turned into a fertilizing soil amendment that is used by the turf producing companies.

This means that your tree will come back to the ground in a certain way.

From left to right, Martin Cloutier, President of Multi Recyclage, Lyne Lange, Vice President, and Yannick Rudolph Binette, Co-Owner of Arbressence, are excited about this partnership that will make it possible to upgrade tens of thousands of Christmas trees.

Photo by Martin Alary

From left to right, Martin Cloutier, President of Multi Recyclage, Lyne Lange, Vice President, and Yannick Rudolph Binette, Co-Owner of Arbressence, are excited about this partnership that will make it possible to upgrade tens of thousands of Christmas trees.

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