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Politics

How To Give Your Christmas Tree A New Purpose After The Holiday

Bare and artificial snow-covered trees sit at the Miramar Landfill ahead of being transformed into mulch through the machine in the background, Dec. 26, 2018.
Tarryn Mento
Bare and artificial snow-covered trees sit at the Miramar Landfill ahead of being transformed into mulch through the machine in the background, Dec. 26, 2018.

Christmas is over but your holiday tree has a chance at a second life. The city of San Diego will accept the evergreens for free and recycle them into mulch and compost.

City residents can drop off their trees and wreaths at one of 16 locations across San Diego through January 23 or at their curb if they have green yard waste containers.

San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate said the annual initiative re-purposes trees that would otherwise take up space at the city dumping grounds. Cate said it diverted more than 1,300 tons, or about 163,000 Christmas trees, last year.

"You can see this program makes a big impact for keeping recycled materials out of the landfill," the district six councilman said.

Tree Recycling Drop-Off Locations
A list of the 16 locations where city of San Diego residents can drop off their Christmas trees to be recycled into mulch and compost.
To view PDF files, download Acrobat Reader.

I Love A Clean San Diego Executive Director Len Hering said it also gives trees another use that's beneficial to the environment.

"Mulch helps retain moisture in the ground, thus saving water, and beautifies the area as well," Hering said.

The organization maintains a list of opportunities for San Diego County residents to recycle their trees.

For the city's program, trees with artificial snow are permitted, but they must be free of ornaments and other materials. Trees are accepted at drop-off locations during daylight hours. Trees in yard waste containers must be less than 4 feet in height or cut in half.

The mulch and compost will be used across city landscaping or sold to support operations at the landfill. Residents can receive to up to 2 cubic yards of mulch and compost for free year-round at the Miramar Greenery.

The tree recycling program is covered by the Environmental Services Department's general budget but does have some additional expenses. Barbara Lamb, deputy director of the waste reduction division, said that's due to overtime for employees staffing the drop-off locations.

Lamb didn't have an estimate but said she'd be "surprised if it even reached $100,000" for that extra cost.

How To Give Your Christmas Tree A New Purpose After The Holiday
The city of San Diego's 45th annual tree recycling program aims to keep your fir, spruce or pine out of the landfill.