As the year winds down, San Francisco officials are reminding residents with Christmas trees that Recology will collect trees on regularly scheduled pick-up days beginning next week.

Recology will begin collecting “naked” trees Jan. 2 and will continue through Jan. 15. Debbie Raphael, director of the Department of Environment said:

“No tinsel. No flocking. No ornaments. No nails. No bases. They need just to be trees.”

City officials Friday held the annual “Chipping of the Trees” in front of City Hall to demonstrate the process that eventually turns trees into useful mulch.

Department of Environment Director Debbie Rapahel shows two nails attached to part of Christmas tree during the annual “Chipping of the Trees” event in San Francisco, Calif., on Friday, December 27, 2019
Jerold Chinn/SFBay

Robert Reed, a spokesperson for Recology, expects to collect 500 tons of trees this year from across The City.

Reed said:

“It’s a great way to … kick-off recycling for the New Year. We’re going to keep 500 tons of trees out of the landfill and turn them into beautiful, nutrient, rich mulch that has many uses.”

Reed said trees need to be less than 6 feet long for collection, or need to be cut in half. 

Raphael said the tree chipping is her favorite part of the holidays. She said:

“Today is my favorite day of the Christmas season because my nose is full of the smell of chipping Christmas trees. It’s a great way to remind people that that Christmas in your home that looks so beautiful in your dining room, living room, has a life after you and that life is to become mulch for our landscaping.”

Jerold Chinn/SFBay Officials held the annual Chipping of the Trees” event in front of City Hall in San Francisco, Calif., on Friday, December 27, 2019.

The chipped trees will head to Recology’s Blossom Valley Organics North located in Vernalis.

Mulch is routinely used to spread around landscaping — it helps prevent weeds from growing and maintains soil moisture, Raphael said.

Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru said in statement:

“Not only does this ensure that discarded holiday trees will be put to good use as earth-friendly mulch, but disposing of them properly also helps keep our neighborhoods clean and safe.”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to jerold@sfbay.ca or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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