Where and How to Recycle or Dispose of Christmas Trees in San Francisco & Bay Area, California after Christmas
2022 and in January 2023
In many urban and suburban areas, Christmas trees are collected from curbside during the first 2 weeks in January. Be sure to remove all
remove all lights, wire, tinsel, ornaments, nails, stands, other
NON-Organic decorative materials and other materials that are not part
of the original tree. This includes tree stands also. Flocked trees are usually accepted, but not artificial trees. Large trees (larger
than the standard 6 - 7 ft tree) may need to be cut in half to
be acceptable by your
garbage hauler. But scrroll down this page for more specific
information and local links.
What happens to the trees? In most cases, the trees are chipped and made into a mulch
which is usually made available, free to city or county residents.
Important: Never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove.
Burning the tree may contribute to creosote buildup and could cause a
Tips: Always follow the links (usually the name of the city or county) below for updated information, as these agencies often wait until the last minute to change dates or
update their information (it's government, remember?). If your area is
not specifically mentioned below, contact your trash collection agency and inquire!
See this page for local options to easily recycle your Christmas holiday lights
If it has just snowed; see
this page about how to make snocones from real snow!
Your kids will love it!
Click here for the list of winter sleigh ride locations!
See our easy recipes to
Chocolate Yule log
click here to make your own low-fat,
low calorie but delicious Egg Nog
! Then come back to our
other website in March to
local Easter Egg Hunt for your children
! There are affiliate links on this page. Read our disclosure policy to learn more.
San Francisco & Bay Area, California: Where and How to Recycle Your Christmas Tree After the Holidays January 2023
If you do not find your area below (which is unlikely, this is a
fairly comprehensive list), click here to contact your city or county's
According to the National Christmas Tree Association's website
, "There are approximately 30-35
million Real Christmas Trees sold in the U.S. every year." Make sure your
tree gets recycled to help the environment rather than become waste!
Francisco is a leader in helping its residents to put their used Christmas
tree to good use. by offering curbside pick up and drop off locations where
trees will be accepted to be recycled. Look below on this page for
both general tips and options specific to your local area. Not in the Bay
area? See this page for
Christmas tree recycling in other parts of California and the rest of the
What Are Your Recycling Choices?
holidays, don't throw your natural tree away! Here are some tips on
what to do with your tree after the holidays. In general, you have these
- Curbside pick-up for recycling - Most areas will collect
trees during their regular pickup schedules on the 2 weeks following
Christmas. There are often requirements for size, removing
ornaments, flocking, etc; see below for details.
- Call for an appointment to have a non-profit in your area
pickup your tree. Some boy scout troops are offering a pickup service
for a small donation (often $5).
- Take your tree to a drop off recycling center. Most counties
have free drop-off locations throughout the county. Usually, you may
take up to two trees to any of the following drop-off locations at no
- Cut the tree to fit loosely into your yard waste container.
Other tips and ideas
After the holidays, don't throw your natural tree away! Here are some tips on what to do with your tree after the holidays:
- Removing the tree: The best way to avoid a mess removing your tree is to place a plastic tree bag (which are available at hardware stores) underneath the stand when you set the tree up! You can hide it with a tree skirt. Then, when the holidays are done, pull the bag up around the tree, stand and all, and carry it outside. Obviously, you will want to remove the stand before recycling the tree. If some needles do scatter inside, it is better to sweep them up; as needles can clog vacuum cleaners.
- Tree Recycling / Mulching programs are a fast-growing trend in communities throughout the nation. Check below on this page or with your local department of public works for information.
They chip and shred the trees, then make the mulch available for use in
your garden. Your
hauler will notify you of pick-up dates in your area. There are a few
things you must do to make your tree ready for RECYCLING. Here are some
general tips - but be sure to check with your local hauler - these are
just general guidelines! To find your local hauler:
If it is Waste Management Inc (WM),
click here to
find your Local WM Service Provider's Website
click here to
contact Your Local WM Customer Service Center by Phone
the 1-800 number of your Local Customer Service Center
If your local hauler is AW / BFI
(Allied Waste) - Click here to locate the contact information for your
- Soil erosion barriers: Some communities use Christmas trees to make effective sand and soil erosion barriers, especially at beaches and on river beds.
- Fish feeders: Sunk into private fish ponds trees make excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.
- Bird feeders: Place the Christmas tree in the garden or backyard and use it as a bird feeder and sanctuary. Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract the birds and they can sit in the branches for shelter. (Make sure all decorations, hooks, garland and tinsel strands are removed). Eventually (within a year) the branches will become brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand or chip it in a chipper.
See this article from Perdue University for more information
- Mulch: A Christmas tree is biodegradable; its branches may be removed, chipped, and used as mulch in the garden.
If you have a neighbor with a chip, see if he will chip it for you.
- Paths for Hiking Trails - some counties use the shredded
trees as a free, renewable and natural path material that fits both the
environment and the needs of hikers!
- Living, rooted trees: Of course, next year, you could get a rooted (ball and burlapped or containerized) tree and then plant it in your yard after Christmas (It's a good idea to pre-dig the hole in the late Fall while the soil is still soft,
then plant the tree into that hole immediately after Christmas.) NOTE: Living trees have a better survival rate in mild climates,
than in a northern area.
- Important: Never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove. Pines, firs and other evergreens have a high
content of flammable turpentine oils. Burning the tree may contribute to creosote buildup
and risk a chimney fire.
Unless otherwise noted, all stands, lights, decorations, and tinsel must be removed. Artificial Christmas trees can not be recycled. They must go out with the garbage.
General tips for most haulers:
- Remove all ornaments, tinsel, lights, and other NON-Organic
decorative materials. This includes tree stands also.
- Trees are often required to be cut into 4 ft lengths; so you may
need to cut your tree in half. In some locales, the trees must be
cut small enough to fit inside your green (yard waste) container.
- In most Bay area locations flocked trees may not be recycled; they must go into the trash. Flocked trees often have special requirements, due to the
chemical content. Some will need to be chopped-up and disposed with
regular solid waste, other recyclers have special drop off locations
where they can handle them safely. If your tree is flocked
check the links below for special requirements for your area, and
call your facility or hauler to be sure nothing has changed!
- Trees are usually collected curbside for two weeks after
- FREE Drop-off locations are also commonly available
- If you miss the collection period, you can cut-up the tree and
place it in your green (yard waste) container for pick-up on the
regularly scheduled service day; assuming your area has a yard waste
collection program to which you subscribe.
Click on the links below to find your local Christmas tree recycling
Some of these links take you to a Earth911.org page for your state, and
you will need to click on the name of the city closest to you. In others
cases, specific local options are below:
San Francisco, Bay area and Surrounding Counties