How to recycle your Christmas tree (the easy way)

treechipperBefore you just drag your tree out to the corner, note that there is an actual process the city asks residents to follow to ensure that your tree gets recycled, and not put in a landfill.

During the first two weeks of January (Jan 2 – 15), just put your tree next to your recycle (blue) bin by 6am on your regularly scheduled pickup day. Make sure all decorations, bags, tinsel etc. have been removed.

The collected trees will be chipped at Recology’s transfer station and recycling center in the southeast end of the city. The wood chips will serve as biomass (boiler fuel) to generate electricity.

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

“San Francisco’s commitment to chipping Christmas trees means that hundreds of tons of discarded trees will be turned into energy, instead of taking up space in our landfills.”

Sarah B.


  1. Thanks for this Sarah! Here’s another suggestion for what to do with Christmas trees:

    City Grazing and the SF Fire Department are recycling nutritious yummy Xmas trees by feeding them to the goats at 100 Cargo Way in San Francisco.
    12:00-4:00 PM January 1, 2, 3, 9, 10
    4:00-6:00 PM December 30, January 6 and 13.
    You can email questions to goats@citygrazing.com or leave a message at 415 642 7172.

  2. I don’t understand why SF Recology or the City doesn’t distribute this info via flyers as well. All my neighbors still left their trees at the corners like usual. We tried to leave our tree out by our house this weekend, waiting for garbage pickup Thursday, but someone had already removed it yesterday. Not sure if it was a garbage truck or a “helpful” neighbor pulling it over to a corner. ?
    Sounds like a missed opportunity to not distribute this info as widely as possible instead of just via the neighborhood blogs.

  3. JAX, I’ve seen the recology trucks in past years circling the ‘hoods picking up tree’s as they find them, not waiting to your trash day – I think they just want to get them off the streets. I look forward to Valentines Day – I always seem to spot a poor, deader then dead tree put out on a corner then!

  4. We left our tree by our blue bin as instructed this morning. No one picked it up! Asked the recycle guy and he said we are supposed to leave it at the corner!

    I agree with another’s comments about recology doing a better job on getting the word out there: including its staff!

  5. Full information on Christmas tree recycling is included in Recology bills. If you’re renting and garbage is included in your rent, you will never see this notification or any other notifications, such as those from SF Water if it is included in your rent. You will also never get notifications of building demolitions or hearings on building plans in the mail as these only go to property owners within 75 feet even if their mailing address for property tax purposes is in another country.

    I just saw on NBC news the goats are no longer interested in eating any more Christmas trees so please leave them for Recology to pick up. Because they are handled differently than the contents of blue, green and black bins, they will be picked up by different trucks to go to the wood chipper.

  6. This initiative is one example of how EarthColor partners with ENGOs to protect the Earth and promote sustainability. You will find others highlighted in our award-winning

  7. The garbage collection service will pick up Christmas trees for recycling during the first two weeks of January. Residents can recycle their cut-up tree in their green cart at any time. Residents must remove tinsel, ornaments, nails and tree stands; cut trees into 5 foot pieces, and set the tree at the curb next to refuse and yard waste carts. After the two-week period, trees set out at the curb, but not in the green cart, can be picked up for a fee, but the trees will not be recycled.

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