8m real Christmas trees are bought every year in the UK, the equivalent of all the trees in London, but after the lights are switched off and the tinsel has come down, many end up discarded on the streets.
Households generate nearly a third more waste over the festive season than any other time of the year – with the Local Government Association estimating it costs the taxpayer nearly £100 for every 40 Christmas trees sent to landfill.
So whether it’s re-planting, having it recycled to be chipped for paths or burning it on a bonfire, Local Government Minister Marcus Jones has called on local people to think about the afterlife of their tree and follow one of his 5 practical tips.
Jones said: “When the festive season comes to an end and the clean-up operation begins we should make sure we’re all doing our bit for the environment.
“Nobody wants to spend January dodging old trees littering the streets. Reusing or recycling your Christmas tree is not only good for the planet it means your local council doesn’t have to waste money on landfill.
“Nobody wants to spend January dodging old trees littering the streets. Reusing or recycling your Christmas tree is not only good for the planet it means your local council doesn’t have to waste money on landfill.”
“Many councils offer special Christmas treecycling services and so I’d urge local people to find out what schemes are running in their area.”
From excess food to unwanted items, overall 30% more waste is produced in the Christmas period than any other time of the year.
Real Christmas trees can be better for the environment if recycled properly than an artificial tree which can take centuries to decompose in a landfill.
The DCLG also says that it’s better for the environment to burn your Christmas tree than it is to throw it in the bin. According to the Carbon Trust, a real Christmas tree that ends up in a landfill decomposes and produces methane gas which is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
However burning a Christmas tree just releases the carbon dioxide it stored when it was growing.
This year the UK has recycled 43.9% of all rubbish, but there is a need to do much more. Recycling can make a real difference – for example, recycling just one plastic bottle can save the amount of energy needed to light a room for the evening.
Finding innovative and creative ways such as giving Christmas cards a new lease of life by cutting them up to make gift tags for next year is just one way of doing your bit for the environment.
But for Christmas trees, Mr Jones offered 5 practical tips:
- Replant your tree in a garden to give it a new lease of life – adding bird feeders will also provide a new shelter for wildlife.
- Drop your tree off at a recycling centre where it can be chipped for walk paths or turned into soil.
- Check out your local council’s website to see if there’s a special collection service.
- Find an organisation or a charity that offers a treecyling service where it could be used to make effective barriers against floods.
- Safely cut up and burn your Christmas tree on a bonfire or a fireplace.
These are among the top tips by organisations including the Carbon Trust as well as several councils and charities that offer collection services.
According to the Carbon Trust, it can take up to ten uses of an artificial Christmas tree to see the same benefits of using a real Christmas tree.