Every December in the UK, somewhere between six to eight million Christmas trees are purchased for a short appearance in offices and homes, dressed in twinkly lights, decorations and tinsel for a few weeks over the festive season.
As the 12 days of Christmas draw to a close, it is time for the majority of these trees, (minus the small percentage of rooted ones), to meet their end, but what happens to them then?
ONLY 10% OF CHRISTMAS TREES ARE RECYCLED IN THE UK
Sadly, despite the fact that we can assume that most people are aware that they ought to recycle their Christmas trees, (in the same way that we recycle our usual waste), figures collated over the last few years show that across the UK, only 10% of Christmas trees are recycled and the rest are simply thrown away.
These discarded trees will ultimately end up in landfill. Figures estimated by Wrap, the Government’s waste agency, indicate that this generates somewhere in the region of 160,000 tonnes of additional and unnecessary waste each year.
A WASTED OPPORTUNITY
With so many Christmas tree recycling options and schemes in the UK, there is really no excuse for sending trees to landfill when they can be recycled so easily and be put to good use. Once shredded through a chipping machine, recycled trees can be used for:
Trees can go on to have a useful life once they have been stripped of their baubles, so it makes sense to recycle them responsibly and give them everlasting life!
ARE YOU UNSURE OF WHERE TO RECYCLE YOUR TREE IN JANUARY?
The services and facilities vary a huge amount across the UK; some local authorities are offering tree-recycling services in a bid to avoid the cost and environmental impact of such a huge quantity of trees going to landfill. In some areas, you may be offered a collection service whereas in others, you may need to drop your tree off at a local collection point.
Other options and collection points to consider include:
Look online to find the most convenient option for you, establish what facilities are on offer in your area and be sure to recycle your tree responsibly!
ARE ARTIFICIAL TREES A GREENER CHOICE?
Whilst many people are under the impression that chopping down the slow growing varieties that we love to adorn as Christmas trees is not a very green practice, providing the trees are recycled responsibly this is not a poor choice for the environment.
These trees are continually grown and replaced as a crop and over the years that it takes them to reach a suitable height; they provide a good habitat for wildlife.
An artificial tree would need to be kept for a minimum of ten years to have a lower carbon footprint than a real tree, so for many families and businesses, a good quality artificial tree is an excellent alternative.
The ideal choice would be a rooted tree that could be brought in from outside in a pot each year, but this option is not always viable. Besides the fact that you would require a suitable outdoor location to keep the tree for the rest of the year, they can be tricky to care for and keep alive!
DONT TREES JUST BIODEGRADE IN LANDFILL?
Yes, ultimately they will, but the sheer bulk of a dead tree places a high economical cost on this choice and in the process of breaking down, the tree will release a large quantity of methane into the atmosphere, adding an unnecessary environmental cost to the equation.
If you have a real tree this year, please find out how to recycle it locally allowing it to return to the soil in a useful, environmentally friendly way. 90% of trees going to landfill is a shocking figure, especially when you consider that it is so easy to do the right thing and make a greener choice.