Do You Know What Happens to Your Old Christmas Tree?

Christmas means many things to many people, including the opportunity to have a real Christmas tree in the living room for a few weeks. The big question is what to do with your old tree and wreath once the season has passed. In recent years, the big question for many living in the Pasadena area is what on earth happens to the countless thousands of Christmas trees when local residents are done with them?

You Might Be Surprised Once You Know

Here in the Pasadena area residents and businesses alike are encouraged to place their trees and wreaths out by the curb for pickup or to take them to specified drop-off points in the city. The city will then run most of them through a wood chipper, instantly turning them into mulch that can be repurposed for a wide range of uses.

A percentage of the trees collected are sent to energy plants where they are burned, helping to keep the cost of electricity under control. Yet more are sent to local landfills, where they can decompose while creating a cover layer for household trash.

In recent years, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has come up with a unique use for all the leftover trees. They are sinking the trees to the bottom of several lakes around the state. Once at the bottom, the trees create ideal hiding places for smaller fish, keeping them safe from predators. California DFW information officer Andrew Vaughn says, “Yeah, it’s true, Christmas trees create habitat for local fish.”

It Is Up to You to Be Aware

There are several variables you need to be aware of with regard to properly disposing of your old tree. How your tree is to be picked up and what happens to it is largely based on the city you live in, which trash hauler you use, and which landfill operator or county agency oversees disposal. Because of this, it is up to you to become familiar with your local rules as they can be very confusing. But if you want your tree to be recycled rather than simply end up in a landfill, you need to take the time to become informed.

While the current recycling plans are considered voluntary in most cities, this is not to be the case as new laws are constantly coming into play. By 2020 the state of California will have new laws in place that require counties and cities to recycle 75 percent of all waste. Currently, the vast majority of trees and other green waste is being collected by private trash haulers rather than by municipal services.

An example of this is Athens Services, a company that provides trash hauling services to several cities in the San Gabriel Valley and has their own landfills, states that they collected over 750 tons of Christmas trees over a period of just three weeks back in 2014. These trees are sent via special trucks to the company’s Mid-Valley Sanitary Landfill located in Rialto, where they are turned into highly valuable nitrogen-rich compost that is in high demand by local farmers.

So now that you know what can happen to your old Christmas trees and wreaths as long as you make the right decision regarding how you dispose of them.