Recyclers find innovative new uses for old Christmas trees

Global Business

Recyclers are finding new uses for Christmas trees, as most of the tens of millions of Christmas trees purchased in the U.S. end up in landfills after the holidays. CCTV America’s Chris Casquejo reported this story from Seattle.

In Seattle, collection trucks pick up real Christmas trees at no charge in one of about 4,000 recycling programs in the U.S. 

Recyclers find innovative new uses for old Christmas trees

Recyclers are finding new uses for Christmas trees, as most of the tens of millions of Christmas trees purchased in the U.S. end up in landfills after the holidays. CCTV America’s Chris Casquejo reported this story from Seattle.

The trees need to be cleaned to be recycled, said Tom Watson, a project manager for King County, in Washington state.

“When you recycle your Christmas tree, you want make sure it has all the decorations, and hooks, and tinsel off it,” Watson said.

Wood from the trees can be used to make bird feeders, and branches and twigs can be used for for brush piles. Many recycling programs also turn trees into mulch or compost that can be used in gardens and landscaping.

But making mulch or compost is not the only environmentally friendly way to dispose of evergreens. Some people use parts of trees to create natural habitats for insects.

“Bees are really super important for fruit and pollination right now. We have to find as many homes for them as we possibly can, so they don’t continue to die off like they have been,” said Marcia Bruno, manager of the West Seattle Nursery.

In the U.S. state of Maine, at the opposite end of the country, evergreens are used as food for goats. People have donated 200 trees to feed one herd, enough to last until March.

While not as popular as real trees, artificial tree sales numbered 14.7 million in 2013. The U.S. Commerce Department said around 80 percent are manufactured in China.

Some environmentalists said using artificial trees may be a better option.

“You get a little higher quality tree that you keep for six or eight years. That’s really fairly green, because you’re not disposing of anything, and it’s conserving resources,” Watson said.