Are you trying to hold on to the holiday season just a little bit longer? Maybe you’re busy and haven’t had time to take down Christmas decorations yet? Whatever the reason, some of us are still looking at a Christmas tree every morning. If you have an artificial tree, it will be boxed up and stored to be used for years to come. If you took the route of getting a live tree, it can be difficult to know what to do with it now that the season is over. If you don’t plan to plant it, make sure you are recycling it!

Lucky for the residents of San Francisco, the city offers a tree recycling program. The city has a goal to achieve zero waste by 2020, which is now only 5 years away! The collection program will help make progress toward that goal. Zero waste means not sending any garbage to landfills or incinerators.

Last year, the city of San Francisco was able to recycle and mulch more than 539 tons of Christmas trees from the previous holiday season. It would be great to increase on that recycling number this year.

“We encourage everyone who disposes of a Christmas tree to take advantage of this great program that helps us get closer to our zero waste goal,” said Mohammed Nuru, San Francisco Public Works Director.

Tree collections began on January 2 and will continue to occur on regular service days through January 16. To put your Christmas tree out for recycling, city officials say to place your tree with your recycling bins in the morning before 6 a.m on your regularly scheduled trash day.  Make sure you remove any ornaments, stands, tinsel, and other decorations before placing your tree out. In addition, any large trees taller than 6 feet should be cut in half prior to putting out for recycling.

Once the trees are picked up, Recology will chip them at a center in San Francisco. They will then be collected and shipped to Tracy, CA where they will be used to generate electricity.  It’s a win-win situation for all. The trees are kept out of landfills or illegal dump sites, and energy comes from them.

“Treecycling is a great way to keep the holiday season green,” said Debbie Raphael, the Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment.