San Francisco Environment Department

By Collecting and Recycling Christmas Trees, San Francisco Keeps City Green and Clean for the Holidays

From left to right: Larry Stringer (Public Works), Debbie Raphael (SF Environment), Robert Reed (Recology) 

December 28, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO— As San Franciscans continue to celebrate holiday traditions this week, City officials and Recology gathered in front of City Hall to celebrate another time-honored tradition – recycling Christmas trees. At this year’s 31st Annual “Chipping of the Trees,” previously adorned household Christmas trees were fed through a giant wood-chipper turning once full trees into mulch for City parks.

The annual tradition is a reminder to all San Francisco residents that their Christmas trees will be collected for recycling by Recology from January 2 to January 12, 2018. Last January, San Francisco recycled 498 tons of Christmas trees – the equivalent of two Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

“In San Francisco, we help make the holidays a little greener by making it easy for residents to recycle their Christmas trees,” said Robert Reed, spokesperson for Recology. “Simply place your unflocked tree next to your blue recycling cart on the morning of your regularly scheduled collection day for pick up.”  

Between January 2 and January 12, San Francisco residents are encouraged to place clean, unflocked trees next to their blue recycling carts before 6 a.m. on their regular collection day. Residents can consult Recology's holiday collection schedule here.

Remove all tinsel, decorations, plastic bags, stands, and lights. If your tree measures more than 6 feet tall, please cut it in half. Trees should not be put into a plastic bag. Recology crews will first collect recycling and then make a second pass to collect Christmas trees.

Collected Christmas trees will be chipped at Blossom Valley Organics North, Recology’s composting facility. The chipped trees will be used to make mulch for use in landscaping.

Department of Environment Director Debbie Raphael helps load a tree into the chipper. 

Christmas tree-cycling helps keep San Francisco green and clean by reducing material sent to landfill and preventing improper disposal and illegal dumping. Earlier this year, the Department of Environment and Recology announced the biggest update to the City’s recycling program in more than 15 years. San Franciscans can now recycle even more, including empty paper cups and cartons, juice boxes, and plastic bags put inside another tied up plastic bag.

“We continue to make recycling easier for San Franciscans and this program is a fitting example of that,” said Debbie Raphael, director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. “Empty paper cups from apple cider, bubble wrap from gifts, and the carton from the milk you left for Santa Claus, all go in the blue recycling bin. Using your blue bin and properly setting your tree out for recycling are easy ways to keep San Francisco green and clean this holiday season.”

“This holiday season, hundreds of tons of discarded trees will be collected and recycled thanks to our partnership with Recology,” said Mohammed Nuru, director of San Francisco Public Works. “By setting out your Christmas tree on your regularly scheduled collection day, San Franciscans are helping us keep our streets and sidewalks safe and clean.”  

Clean, unflocked trees should be set out next to your blue recycling bin on your regular collection day. 

“We are proud to be part of the City’s long standing holiday tradition of recycling our holiday trees, and keeping our environment safer and greener,” said Phil Ginsburg, General Manager of SF Rec and Park Department.  “We urge everyone to join us and participate in this great tradition as we welcome the new year.”

Recology’s holiday collection schedule is available on For more information email Recology through the “Contact Us” form at or call the company at (415) 330-1300.

To learn more about the new materials accepted in the blue recycling bin in San Francisco, visit:

Press Contacts:
Peter Gallotta, SF Department of Environment, 415-355-5002, [email protected]
Robert Reed, Recology, cell: (415) 606-9183, [email protected]
Rachel Gordon, San Francisco Public Works, 415-554-6045, [email protected]            

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