Tinsel on the tree

Action: Dispose of the Christmas tree properly

Disposing of your Christmas Tree

The British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) estimates around seven million trees are bought each year in the UK. If not reused or recycled, trees end up dumped illegally or in landfill which is costly to both the environment and the taxpayer, with the cost of sending those trees being around £22 million.

Similar stories will be told in other countries too of course!

Whether you use a real or artificial tree (that debate is still ongoing), it’s important to make sure you dispose of it in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

Artificial trees

If you have an artificial tree, then first of all make sure to look after it well with a view to keeping it for future use, as they are made from a combination of materials and therefore cannot be recycled. Dumping artificial trees after only one or two years is the very worst of Christmas tree options.

If you really have to dispose of it, charity shops will often accept those in good condition and packaged up well (or you could give it away free of charge to a family near you using Facebook Marketplace … Ed)

Real Christmas trees

Real Christmas trees are recyclable and can be shredded into chippings, which are then used in parks or woodland areas. Alternatively, if they have some roots, you can replant them in your own garden, meaning you can enjoy your tree for years to come.

Pexels xmas tree

Ways to reuse or dispose of your real Christmas tree:

  • Replant your potted Christmas tree in a garden to give it a new lease of life
  • You could also add bird feeders to provide shelter and food during the winter months
  • Drop your tree off at a recycling centre where it can be turned into chippings for paths or turned into soil
  • Check with your local authority to see if there’s a special collection service – many offer this service in early January
  • Details for each local authority, including their contact details, can be found by entering your postcode into the recycling locator tool on the Recycle Now website
  • If at all possible, chip the tree yourself, and spread it on your garden for mulch
  • If composting the chipped remains it’s important that the heap is kept aerobic by turning it and by including an appropriate mixture of ‘green’ and ‘brown’ materials
  • Create a pond habitat – sink pieces of your tree into a backyard pond as a refuge and feeding area for fish
  • Use for decorations – cut pieces of your tree to use as ornaments for next year. Thin slices of the trunk create a blank canvas that can be decorated and then strung with a piece of ribbon
  • Look for an organisation or charity that offers a ‘tree-cyling’ service where it could be re-used. For example some schemes use them to build effective flood barriers in communities around the UK

Important to remember …

Please avoid burning Christmas trees, as this releases carbon into the atmosphere, which would otherwise have become organic matter and enriched the soil. Burning damp, sappy pine also releases a lot of smoke and particulates.

And, of course, however you dispose of your tree, remember to remove all tinsel and decorations and any pots or stands beforehand! These will contaminate the green recycling systems or your composting.

Take action

Don’t just throw your Christmas tree in the bin. Please ensure it is reused or recycled properly to limit the carbon dioxide emissions from the millions of trees we use each year.

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