Jan 4, 2024 - Holidays

How to recycle your Christmas tree

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

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The holidays are over, so it's time to "treecycle" your Christmas tree before it becomes a fire risk.

State of play: As per usual, local trash collector Recology will recycle your Christmas cheer for free.

  • If your tree is over 6 feet tall, Recology asks that you cut it in half.
  • All you have to do is put it next to your bins on your regular collection day by Jan. 12 and bada-boom.

Why it matters: A dying Christmas tree combined with any heat source "is a fire waiting to happen," so you should dispose of it quickly, according to fire captain Jonathan Baxter with the San Francisco Fire Department.

Of note: The tree must be natural, undecorated and without the artificial snow. You'll also need to remove the stand, lights, etc.

By the numbers: San Francisco has recycled Christmas trees for over 30 years, recycling about 500 tons of trees on average every year, per SF Environment.

What they're saying: "500 tons is a whole lot of Christmas trees," Recology spokesperson Robert Reed said in a written statement. "Let's recycle them by turning them into mulch, a useful product."

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