As Christmas trees begin to wane to shed their pine needles onto the floor and carpet, the city of Los Angeles provides ways to recycle them.
The department of public works offers curbside collection, which is available for any tree as long as all decorative ornaments are removed. If the tree is too large to cut up for the green waste bin, just put the tree next to the bin on your scheduled recycling pick-up day.
According to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Brian Cummings, the city's Christmas tree recycling program began in 1992 and recycles approximately 100,000 trees (1,300 tons) each year that would otherwise end up in city landfills. The trees are combined with the rest of the city’s green waste to become mulch and compost, which is used by city staff for landscaping and by residents for gardening.
This contributes to the city's high rate of recycling. Los Angeles recycles over 70 percent its waste, the highest rate among the nation's top 10 largest cities, according to the bureau of sanitation. In addition to improving the environment, properly disposing of Christmas trees also reduces the nearly 200 Christmas tree related fires that occur each year.
"This holiday season every Angeleno can give a gift to Mother Nature by recycling our Christmas trees," said Mayor Villaraigosa in a press release. "If every Angeleno pitches in and recycles their Christmas trees, together we can increase recycling so significantly that we will lead the nation in waste diversion and reduce the number of Christmas tree related fires in the city."
Residents can participate in the Christmas Tree Recycling Program by using their green bins and following one of three simple steps after the removing the tree’s decorations and stand:
- Cut the tree into pieces, and place the tree into the green yard trimming bin.
- Place trees next to their green bin on their curb on collection day.
- Bring trees to one of 21 citywide drop-off sites at participating Los Angeles Fire Department and Recreation and Park sites, on Sunday, Jan. 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
A list of the 21 citywide drop-off sites can be found by visiting this website or calling 3-1-1.
"Dried out Christmas trees create a significant fire hazard," Chief Cummings said. "That's why, for the safety of everyone in your household, it's important to ensure that Christmas trees are watered, cared for, and removed from the home soon after the holidays."