Now that Twelfth Night has passed, forlorn, threadbare trees are appearing on street corners and in gutters, abandoned now that they’re surplus to requirements. So why aren’t more trees being recycled?
It looks as if Britain’s unofficial Christmas tree dumping campaign has begun. It’s not a pretty sight, and an unnecessary one too, as Christmas trees can, of course, be recycled.
Run through a shredder, they’re a great addition to a compost heap, and most councils offer a Christmas tree collection service these days. So why are so many of the eight million Christmas trees that we buy every year (250 million tonnes according to recycling experts WRAP) simply thrown away?
How councils recycle Christmas trees
One possible reason is that people don’t realise that Christmas trees can be recycled. Personally, I find this difficult to believe. We’re all well versed in the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra these days. A Christmas tree is ‘green waste’ – just like shrub prunings, grass clippings and veg peelings – and therefore suitable for our green waste or compost bins.
Most councils these days are pretty good at spreading the message about how to recycle your Christmas tree. A quick trawl of local authority websites reveals that most offer a recycling service – even if some ask that householders take trees to their nearest recycling centre.
Even in London, which isn’t the easiest city in which to recycle, it’s relatively simple. According to Recycle for London all 33 boroughs are offering Christmas tree recycling this year. Even the 20m Norwegian spruce in Trafalgar Square has been chipped and made into mulch!
Is apathy, not ignorance, stopping people?
My local council is asking residents to put their trees straight into their green bin. I only have a smallish green waste bag though, so I had to get handy with a saw and chop my tree into small pieces. I could also have taken my tree to my local garden centre, and if I’d been feeling really lazy, asked them to collect it for a small fee. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to just throw it away.
It appears, though, that plenty of people are happy to dump their tree. Could it be that it’s not ignorance that’s stopping people from recycling, but apathy? Are the people who dump Christmas trees the same as those who dump unwanted fridges and sofas in the street? Or those who still throw paper and glass into a bin?