Recycling centre staff member in front of garden waste bay

Dreaming of a green Christmas

We can recycle and pick up your real Christmas trees after the holidays. We still give them a lot of love even after they’ve stopped looked their best.

Old Christmas trees still have a bit of life left in them. They can be used to warm our homes, support our farmers and even create a useful nutrient rich mix from our poo!

Bristol Waste collected 168 tones of Christmas trees in January 2021. They were used in barley fertilisation and may have even brewed our beers this year. Thanks!

However, this year things have changed a little. It’s not quite as glamorous or delicious but still packs a punch.

This year, Christmas trees will act as a warm pair of gloves for Bristol’s organic waste. They will help heat a process called anaerobic digestion which turns food and sewage waste into energy, warmth and biofertiliser.

The cold winter weather slows anaerobic digestion down. We need your Christmas trees to turn the heat up!


What happens to Christmas tree recycling?

We will pick up your old Christmas tree with the kerbside bins for free. Please make sure you remove all decorations before placing your tree outside for collection. Christmas tree pickup is on the same day as your general waste wheelie bin collection. Have a look for the Christmas tree symbol on your calendar to know when to put your tree out for collection.

The Christmas trees that we collect are transported to GENeco in Avonmouth. Here they will be checked, prepared and put into the first step of anaerobic digestion.


Pine fresh poo

Your Christmas trees are first shredded and blended into a smoothie of screenings taken from the sewage process.

Screenings are all the gunky and really chunky stuff that’s removed from wastewater and sewage. Often screenings include toilet paper, wet wipes and anything else that’s not your organic waste that may find its way down your loo.

Chunky and undissolved objects can often clog up the wastewater treatment plants system, so it’s important that they are removed.


Pasteurised waste

The mix is then added to more organic matter, including food waste. It’s then concentrated and fed into a pasteurisation process, heated to destroy any pathogenic microorganisms.

Pasteurisation creates a safe organic mix without destroying the good stuff used for sustainable agricultural fertiliser.


A lot to digest

The safe, pasteurised waste is now fed into an anaerobic digester to be broken down by friendly microorganisms.

An anaerobic digester or reactor is just like a vast stomach. The process happens in a sealed tank without oxygen. Small communities of microbes get to work on the organic waste, breaking it down into solids or gas.


Christmas tree recycling final product

The biogas created through anaerobic digestion is perfect for renewable electricity production. It can also be converted into enriched biomethane used for transport fuel or household gas.

The solid organic by-product of anaerobic digestion is called cake. It is full of lovely healthy nutrients for soils and can replace unsustainable inorganic fertilisers.


Closing the carbon loop

Anaerobic digestion is recognised as one of the most sustainable methods to recycle organic waste.

Every tonne of food waste processed by anaerobic digestion, rather than chucked into a landfill, prevents between 0.5 and 1.0 tonne of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

If your Christmas tree is thrown into a landfill, it will slowly decompose. The rotting process produces methane gas which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

To start the new year sustainably, let us take care of your tree. A real Christmas tree isn’t just for Christmas; it can warm your home and even charge your phone.