Jan 6, 2023 - News

Denver's Christmas tree recycling falls on residents this year

Illustration of a recycling symbol made from Christmas tree pine needles.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Christmas tree recycling looks different in Denver this year — and not everyone is happy about it.

What's happening: The city's annual Treecycle program is no longer composting trees dropped in alleys and on curbsides. Instead, it's offering additional drop-off locations, with nine sites open on weekends and three on weekdays through Jan. 31.

  • Any trees set out with the trash will be picked up — but dropped at the dump.

What they're saying: Roughly 11% of Denver customers participate in tree recycling, transportation department spokesperson Vanessa Lacayo tells us. The problem is demand.

  • "By asking these 20,000 or so customers to utilize our drop sites in 2023, our crews can provide monthly large item pickup service to all 180,000 customers starting in January instead of in February," she said.

The other side: Many residents, including some who have even shown up at a City Council meeting, are complaining the new rules are an inconvenience. Others, including a council member, have raised concerns about older Denverites who may not have the ability to transport trees independently.

  • "For an elderly person who has a family member that brings them a tree, now they’re going to have to figure out how they get it to a dropoff location,” Council Member Debbie Ortega said at a legislative meeting earlier this week.

What's next: Mulch from the trees recycled this month will be available for free during the city's annual Mulch Giveaway & Compose Sale in May.

  • It's unclear if the current approach will continue in 2024. (The city did not respond to Axios Denver's question about this.)

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