Here's how to recycle your Christmas tree

KGO logo
Sunday, December 27, 2020
Different ways to recycle your Christmas tree
Of the 25 to 30 million trees sold in North America every year, about 93% get recycled, according to AccuWeather.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Once Santa's delivered his toys and the new year has begun, it's time to say goodbye to your Christmas tree.

City officials on Saturday reminded residents that San Francisco's curbside pickup of holiday trees will take place in early January.

Last year, the city chipped more than 500 tons of Christmas trees into mulch.

"Not only does this ensure that discarded holiday trees will be put to good use as earth-friendly mulch, but disposing of them properly also helps keep our neighborhoods clean and safe and reduces fire hazards," said Acting Public Works Director Alaric Degrafinried.

After removing tinsel, decorations, nails, plastic bags, stands, and lights from the trees, residents can place them next to blue recycling bins the night before their scheduled collection day, between Jan. 4 and Jan. 15.

WATCH: Video shows raccoon discovered in Christmas tree leap onto chandelier

Chaos unfolded in the middle of the night when a raccoon hiding in a Christmas tree took down the tree before leaping onto a dining room chandelier.

Any tree more than 6 feet tall should be cut it in half. Trees should not be put into plastic bags.

The trees will be chipped in San Francisco and turned into mulch at a Recology composting facility.

The holiday collection schedule is available on

Of the 25 to 30 million trees sold in North America every year, about 93% get recycled, according to AccuWeather. Here's how:

  • Christmas trees can be recycled in ponds. Trees make great habitats for fish and other aquatic wildlife.
  • Recycle trees at the beach. In beach communities, recycled Christmas trees help fight beach erosion and restore sand dunes. They also retain sand and protect vegetation from strong winds.
  • Recycle trees as bird feeders. Place it in the backyard and top with something to attract birds, like orange slices, bird feed with peanut butter or strung popcorn. Christmas trees make great nests and have branches for shelter.
  • Recycle trees by planting them. If you have the room, when you buy your tree next year, plant it. That way you can re-plant it after the holidays, and it can continue to grow. It's best to dig a hole in the late fall, when the soil is still soft, and then plant the tree immediately.
  • Turn trees into firewood. While needles dry out quickly, you probably need to wait a few months before the log is dry enough to burn.
  • Recycle trees as mulch. Trees can have their branches removed, then chipped, so it can be used as mulch in a garden.
  • Have your tree picked up or dropped off. Depending on where you live, you can put your tree on the curb and have it picked up during regular trash pickup. Also, you can check your local recycling center for dropoff dates.
  • For more information, email Recology at or call the company at (415) 330-1300.

    Bay City News contributed to this report.