Oh Christmas Tree: Composting at Christmas

4 December 2012  |  HOTBIN Composting

12 Days of HOTBIN Composting

Day 2Every year in the UK six million trees are adorned with baubles, tinsel, lights and many other decorations filling homes with joy for three festive weeks each year. Then bam, January 6th hits and the familiar sight of trees discarded outside or squashed into bins heading straight for landfill begins as people try to avoid bad luck by not taking down decorations on the twelfth night.

Christmas trees have both an environmental as well as an economic cost. According to the Local Government Association, each tree costs more than £2.30 in fees and landfill taxes to send to landfill and . The carbon footprint of a 2-meter tall tree is 16kg of CO2e; this is due to methane gas being produced as the whole tree decomposes. Interestingly burning or chipping trees will reduce this carbon footprint by up to 80%.

Reduce the Environmental and Economic Impact

Once you have finished with your Christmas tree in your home you can put it to use in your garden – needles and all. Reap the additional benefits of your tree all year round by adding parts  to your HOTBIN, recycling tree waste into rich compost.

Thicker parts of the tree, including some branches and the trunk may be too big to chop. These can be put through a chipper if you have access to one, this can then be used as bulking agent as long as it is kept dry.

Parts will take some time to digest due to the lignin content, however if chopped/shredded to less than 4cm the decomposition process will be sped up. We recommend adding little and often mixed with lots of other easy-to-digest waste. It’s not only your tree you can compost, you can also add in some of your decorations. So if it’s time to get rid of some of the old ones then check out the following list to see if you can compost them.

  • Tinsel/Lametta - NO. Made from plastics/foil.
  • Ribbon – Make sure it has no wire or plastics in first.
  • Glass Baubles – NO.
  • Wooden Decorations – YES. Make sure they are broken up into smaller pieces so it breaks down quicker.
  • Natural Material Decorations – YES. Ensure bigger pieces are cut up.
  • Chocolates – YES. You have chocolates left? Eat them at once!
  • Beads – NO, Generally plastic which will not decompose.

Composting your Christmas tree might sound like a lot of effort but real trees are still a ‘greener’ option compared to artificial trees. To put it in perspective you would have to a keep an artificial tree for a whopping 10 years to get the lower carbon footprint than a real tree and you wouldn’t get that fresh pine smell every year.