What happens to recycled Christmas trees?

Where will my Christmas tree go after collection?

After last Christmas, Bristol Waste collected 187 tonnes of Christmas trees. That’s around 26,600 trees or a very festive 7.3 football pitches.

Check your collections calendar to see when we will pick up your Christmas tree from the kerbside.

Ever wondered what happens to your Christmas tree after it gets collected? The trees we collect are mixed with other bits of Bristol’s organic waste and given a new life as compost. A four-step process that reduces carbon impact, recycles ‘difficult to treat’ biological waste and supports environmental land restoration.

Read on to explore the four steps of Christmas tree recycling:

  1. Christmas tree collection
  2. shredded, blended and mixed
  3. the maturing process
  4. the final result

An old Christmas tree leaning against a black bin

Christmas tree collection

We can pick up your old Christmas tree from the kerbside. Please remove all decorations before placing your tree outside for collection. Christmas tree pickup is the same day as your general waste wheelie bin collection. Look for the Christmas tree symbol on your calendar to know when to put your tree out for collection.


Christmas trees piled up in the transfer station waiting to be chipped

St Peter’s Hospice ‘TreeCycle’ scheme

Our charity partner, St Peter’s Hospice, are running a Christmas Tree Collection scheme this year. Collections in early January 2024 for selected postcodes across Bristol, including BS4, BS5, BS7, BS9, BS15, BS16 and BS30.

The hospice’s team of volunteers will collect real Christmas trees from your doorstep and recycle them on your behalf in exchange for a donation to the Hospice. They recommend £15 – £20 per tree (or whatever you can afford).

Supporting the Hospice by recycling your Christmas tree will help to pay for essential end of life patient care when it matters most and help you to have a sustainable start to the New Year.

To book your tree collection visit: www.stpetershospice.org/treecollection 

Shredded, blended and mixed

The trees that we collect are transported to GENeco, Avonmouth. Here they will be checked, prepared and shredded. The trees will then be blended with other organic materials and chunky gunky objects collected from places like wastewater treatment plants.

Christmas trees will enter a finely tuned compost process that helps reduce both CO2 and methane emissions and saves Bristol money. If your Christmas tree is thrown into landfill, it will slowly decompose, sending more methane gas into the air. Methane is about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in warming our atmosphere.

Two tractors shredding organic waste

The maturing process

The mix then goes through a treatment process that uses aerobic composting to break down the trees and other biological waste. The mix is pushed into mounds called windrows that are cared for by specialists over a period of about three months. The perfect conditions allow microorganisms to flourish and break down the organic material.

Lines of piled up organic waste about 2 meters tall

The final result

The mix is then sterilised and left to mature even further, leaving any material like plastics that cannot decompose to be removed by screening through a big sieve. This then leaves a compost full of lovely healthy nutrients for soils, perfect for land restoration, which can help regenerate natural environments.

Piles of composted Christmas trees and organic material in a sunny open field

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