Are Your Christmas Trees REALLY Being Recycled?

julio.garciah/CC BY 2.0

I was scrolling through Google+ this morning, and saw this post by fellow garden/green blogger Shawna Coronado. Essentially, the story is this: residents were told to place their real Christmas trees on the curb for recycling this week. When Ms. Coronado heard the garbage truck, she watched in dismay as the trash collector put both the trees and the trash in the same truck and drove away. She even managed to snap a quick photo of it.

She called Waste Management to ask about how the company dealt with Christmas trees, and was informed that the trucks were supposed to make a separate run later on in the day, solely to collect trees and take them to a facility where they would be chipped and made into mulch. Clearly, this did not happen.

In this case, after a lot of back and forth with the city and Waste Management, it became clear that there wasn't a clear policy in place regarding Christmas trees. The city had told residents they'd be recycled, but that service wasn't actually anywhere in its contract with Waste Management.

So, what can we do in these instances? We can make sure we call both our municipality and the company (if your trash pick-up is privatized, as it is in many cities now) and find out what exactly the contract entails. If the city has a clear contract, stating that the company will recycle them, then you're all set (though it's still worth keeping an eye on the situation to make sure it's actually happening.) Some cities have trees collected by their public works departments, and they'll then shred them to use as mulch in local parks. And some cities have NO plan for tree recycling. In these cases, you'll have to find a recycling center, or recycle it yourself in your own garden. You may also want to approach your city council and mayor about getting a tree recycling program in place.Either way, we can't just take it for granted that our Christmas trees are actually being recycled.

Tags: Recycling | Waste