Christmas Tree Recycling
After the 21-22 holiday season, 1,355 trees were dropped off for recycling. Great job Westmoreland County! A huge thanks goes out to all of the public works departments, fire stations, rotary clubs, watersheds and businesses that keep this program running year after year.
Westmoreland Cleanways and Recycling would like to encourage everyone to continue the spirit of giving by recycling your live Christmas tree. After the festivities are finished, you can take your tree to one of many Christmas tree drop off locations The trees will either be chipped into mulch by the municipalities and used to beautify community parks, or placed in natural areas to provide wildlife habitat.
All locations require that trees are completely bare of decorations when dropped off. This includes any tree bags or wrappings used to transport the tree to the drop-off site.
There is no cost to recycle your Christmas tree, but some organizations hosting tree recycling sites collect donations to fund their own projects:
- Boy Scout Troop 239 collecting trees at Schramms Farms and Orchards in Penn Township
- The Murrysville-Export Rotary collecting trees at the lot adjacent to the Windstream parking lot in Murrysville
Sponsors of the 2021-2022 Christmas tree recycling program include: Westmoreland Cleanways and Recycling, James A. Rutter Company in Murrysville, Penn Township, and the Borough of Youngwood.
Why Recycle Christmas Trees?
Christmas Tree-Cycling is beneficial to the environment.
- Recycling your Christmas tree returns it to nature, completing the recycling loop. Once the tree is chipped, the chips can be used for mulch or as a surface for hiking trails. The chips then decompose into valuable humus, nourishing and renewing the soil.
- It is estimated that 1 live tree Christmas tree makes 5 pounds of mulch.
- If not used for mulch, many communities depend on recycled Christmas trees to provide wildlife habitats that prevent beachfront erosion, improve shoreline stabilization on rivers and lakes, and improve fish habitat.
- If not recycled, live trees thrown away with the garbage in most cases end up taking up space in a landfill.
“Artificial trees are not recyclable and consume energy and natural resources that can’t be recovered. Live trees add oxygen to the air, control erosion, and provide wildlife habitat while growing, and can be mulched or composted after Christmas to benefit the soil. What could be more natural than that?” – Ellen Keefe, former Executive Director of Westmoreland Cleanways
The Live Versus Artificial Debate… No Contest
There is an on going debate as to whether it is more eco-friendly to purchase a live tree or an artificial one. Real trees are a renewable and recyclable resource. According to the National Christmas Tree Growers Association, in 2021 there were approximately 15,000 farms, devoting over 350,000 acres of land to growing close to 350 million Christmas Trees in the U.S. Trees from these farms support complex eco-systems, and absorb carbon dioxide and other gases while releasing oxygen.
Christmas Trees also stabilize soil, protect water supplies and provide refuge for wildlife. Often, Christmas Trees are grown on soil that doesn’t support other crops. Live trees continue to be beneficial after the holiday season. When recycled, the trees can be used for mulch or wildlife habitat.
In contrast, 85% of artificial trees are factory-made in China, using methods that consume natural resources. Typically, the type of plastic that artificial trees are made from is PVC. PVC production can emit dangerous dioxins in the air and water. Furthermore, PVC can be a potential source of lead, which can be harmful to children and pets. This plastic used in manufactured trees is also a petroleum by-product. They are non-biodegradable and not recyclable or renewable. Most will eventually end up in landfills, where they will remain for centuries.
For more information about Live Christmas Trees, visit the National Christmas Tree Association website.
Tree-cycling is truly giving a gift back to the community. This holiday season, when the festivities have ended, extend the spirit of giving by recycling your live Christmas tree.
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