Your soon-to-be-obsolete Christmas tree can be picked up with your Recology trash and recycling collection on certain specific dates in January, at no extra charge. Recology and other city departments announced those January pickup dates on Thursday. And just for fun, they shoved 75 leftover, unsold Christmas trees into a commercial grade wood chipper to show what happens to your tree after Recology takes it away, as seen in the video below.
Recology’s unofficial “Christmas tree recycling dog” Peanut even makes an appearance at the 1:06 mark of the video. Don’t worry, the little dog does not fall into the wood chipper!
More importantly, San Francisco Department of Environment director Debbie Raphael announced the dates of the curbside Christmas tree collection.
“Residents need to put those trees out on the curb next to the recycling bin between Jan. 2 and Jan. 12,” Raphael said. “Don’t put them out today. You need to put them out on your normal collection day when your recycling and your compost is picked up between between Jan. 2 and Jan. 12.” She also stressed that trees should be left on the curb completely bare, with no tinsel, no plastic bases still connected, and no ornaments or ornament hangers still attached.
Yes, the New Year’s Day holiday does affect your curbside collection schedule.
“Monday, Jan. 1 is a holiday,” said Recology spokesperson Robert Reed. “If you’re a Monday customer and that’s your regular day, we’re going to come on Tuesday, we’ll come one day later that first week. If you’re a regularly a Tuesday customer, we’re going to come on Wednesday that first week.”
You can find your adjusted holiday trash and recycling schedule on the Recology collection calendar.
Raphael also stressed that Christmas trees should not go into the compost bin.
“Christmas trees do not go into the green bin, they actually make lousy compost,” she said. “We need to take those Christmas trees and make wonderful mulch out of them.”
Your tree will not be picked up at the same time as your compost and recycling, but will be picked up on a ‘second run’ a few hours later that same day.
Once collected, your Christmas tree will be chipped to bits and transported to Modesto’s Blossom Valley Organics to be turned into mulch. This mulch helps hold moisture into soil, which is exceedingly important since it hasn’t rained in a month and we have had wildfire problems in California this year. This is all part of San Francisco’s Zero Waste Program whose goal is to eliminate landfill — that is, trash — and move the city toward an only-recycling-and-compost model.
But Department of Public Works deputy director Larry Stringer emphasized that trees should not be put out on the curb until Jan. 2, because putting trees put before Jan. 2 complicates sidewalk debris removal operations all over the city.
“Please don’t put them out before that,” Stringer said. “Please. I’m stressing to that to you. It’s important to the city as a whole.”
Last year, San Francisco recycled 498 tons of Christmas trees according a Recology release.