Updated: Jan 18
The smell of pine and glistening lights are dazzling and it seems like it was just yesterday that you picked out the perfect Christmas tree.
But once the parties are over, the presents are unwrapped, and the needles hit the floor, what should you do with that forlorn little fir?
When the holidays are over, take down the glass ornaments, but don't bag the tree. Its needles, boughs, and trunk are actually useful in more ways then you think.
Everything You Need To Know About Recycling Your Christmas Tree
Here’s everything you need to know about recycling or disposing of your Christmas tree in the Bay Area.
Why recycling your tree is important
Simply put, recycling your Christmas tree is an environmentally-friendly thing to do! Real Christmas trees are biodegradable and can easily be reused or recycled (unfortunately, the same can’t be said for artificial trees).
Nationwide Americans chop down 25 to 30 million trees each year to celebrate the holidays, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. Many of those trees end up in landfills, releasing greenhouse gases as they decompose, or in incinerators.
Cutting down and transporting Christmas trees does require energy and fuel though, so the Christmas tree life-cycle isn’t always the most environmentally conscious process when taking these things into account.
However, when trees are properly recycled instead of taken to a landfill, they have plenty of environmentally friendly uses after their holiday, which can help balance out some of the impacts.
The small extra effort to recycle your tree can help make a difference.
How Christmas trees get recycled
In most cases, trees are put into a chipper and repackaged into mulch. While others become fuel and are burned up in waste-to-energy plants.
In some cases, old trees are also used as habitats for wildlife. One of the more creative uses comes from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Its officers sink old trees to the bottom of California lakes where they help smaller fish hide from predators.
At the end of the day, depending on which city, trash hauler, county agency or landfill operator gets a hold of the post-Christmas centerpiece determines its fate. Which is why it’s important to make a conscious choice about where it ends up.
Important! Never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or woodstove. Burning the tree may contribute to creosote (a byproduct of wood combustion that consists mainly of tar) buildup and could cause a chimney fire.
Where to recycle your Christmas trees in the Bay Area
Tree recycling is a simple process and shouldn’t require more effort than trashing a tree would. Most counties in the Bay Area offer programs like transfer stations, drop-off centers, or curbside pickup services for residents.
Some of these services are even free of charge in the first few weeks of January if you plan ahead.
Below, Nixxit has provided a list of some resources to help you properly recycle your tree after the holidays.
Local waste management
Curbside recycling pickup from your local waste management provider may be an option in your area, although there are often requirements. Some requirements include tree size and making sure all decorations are removed prior.
For example, Cities that use ACI can have their tree picked up curbside free of charge on regular service days from December 26th through the end of the third week in January. ACI requires that you remove all lights, decorations, tinsel, and the tree stand before placing your tree out next to your carts (flocked trees are not accepted).
They also require that trees over 6-feet tall should be cut in half and that you do not place your tree in any type of plastic wrap or bag.
We encourage you to check your local waste management provider’s website for their Christmas tree pick up policy and any special pick-up date restrictions.
Return it to seller
In some cases, you may be able to return your tree to the seller. Some large tree farms will actually take the tree back after Christmas. Contact the place where you purchased your tree to inquire about pickup and drop-off options if available.
For a small donation per tree, local Boy Scouts will also pick up holiday trees from local residents and recycle them. In order to have your tree picked-up, the Boy Scouts require that you make a reservation on their website beforehand.
Most cities have their own local troop and a quick Google search will help you find your nearest one.
Two quick examples of local troops we found in our area:
Troop 11 serves Alameda, CA. You can book your Christmas tree pick-up reservation directly through their website here.
Troop 905 serves Dublin, CA and Dublin residents can book their Christmas tree pick-up reservation directly through their website here.
When you find your local troop, take action quickly! Most Boy Scout troops require you to claim your spot by early January and their sign-ups fill up fast.
Be sure the ask them for any special restrictions. Most troops will also require you to remove decorations. Some troops may accept trees that are still decorated for an additional fee.
You can also opt to have a local hauling service pick up your Christmas tree for a fee. This may even be the best choice if you are unable to carry your tree to the curb, simply don’t feel like it, or can’t meet one of the above pick-up deadlines.
Nixxit can haul your tree from anywhere. So whether your tree is located in your living room, on the second story of your home, or on the 25th floor of your high-rise, we have you covered.
When booking with your local hauler, make sure you inquire about their recycling methods.
Not all haulers have the same environmentally friendly practices. Some haulers may claim that they are eco-friendly but dispose of trees directly in landfills, which defeats the whole purpose.
Nixxit only uses transfer stations to dispose of Christmas trees - and everything else we can’t donate first for the matter!
By taking your tree to a transfer station instead of to a landfill, Nixxit ensures that your Christmas tree is properly broken down and recycled. It is slightly more expensive for us to do so but the long-term goal is worth it.
Nixxit is available for same-day pick-ups or you can even schedule several weeks out. Really, whenever works best for you.
Ready to learn more about Nixxit’s Christmas Tree Recycling? Contact our team today to schedule a pick-up or get a free quote!