Recycle or replant your tree for a greener Christmas

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As the country winds down from the festive period, millions of households and businesses will be looking to take down their Christmas decorations – and in total dispose of eight million Christmas trees.

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

If not reused or recycled, trees can end up in landfill which is costly to both the environment and the taxpayer, with the cost of landfilling eight million trees being around £22 million.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow, said:

Millions of families around the UK celebrated Christmas with a beautiful Fir or Spruce tree in their home, but when the decorations are taken down, it’s important that we dispose of trees sustainably.

If you have a tree with its roots still attached, then replanting your Christmas tree is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and help our efforts to plant more trees. But if replanting is not an option, make sure to check what collection and recycling services are available where you live. Alternatively, if you have a compost bin or heap, then you could break up your tree and add it to the compost.

If, however, you have an artificial tree, then make sure to look at ways of keeping them for future Christmases so they don’t end up in landfill where they can take centuries to decompose.

Four ways to reuse or dispose of your Christmas tree:

  1. 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 for wildlife
  2. Drop your tree off at a recycling centre where it can be turned into chippings for paths or turned into soil
  3. Check with your local council to see if there’s a special collection service
  4. Look for an organisation or charity that offers a ‘treecyling’ service where it could be used to build effective flood barriers in communities around the UK

Further information

  • Local authorities often arrange drop-off points or special collections of trees in early January and advertise the dates this will take place

  • 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

  • Estimated total cost of landfill is based on average landfill costs per tonne of waste

  • According to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association, between six and eight million real Christmas trees are sold in the UK every year; A typical six to seven foot high Christmas tree is between 10 and 12 years old; Nordmann Firs are the most popular in homes, making up 80% of those sold, with Norway Spruce making up 10-15%

  • For future Christmases, the Royal Horticultural Society encourages buyers to ask their supplier where the trees come from and to choose a locally sourced and grown tree, or one that has at least been grown in the UK rather than abroad

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