Can the Christmas tree be disposed of in the organic waste bin?

Christmas tree in the organic waste bin?

It's that time again! The holidays are just around the corner and that means it's time to put up the Christmas tree and decorate it festively.

But what do you actually do with your tree in January when the holidays are over and it slowly loses its needles and looks sad? Can you just throw it in the organic waste bin or are there other options?

In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about disposing of your Christmas tree, what options are available to you, what actually happens to your tree after the garbage collectors have picked it up, and why it's not a good idea to dump it in the forest.

Tips for proper disposal of the Christmas tree

First of all, it is important to know how to prepare your tree when you say goodbye to it in the spring and which mistakes you should definitely avoid. Regardless of whether it goes into the organic waste bin, to the recycling center or into the garden, there are a few things you should consider before disposal:

Decorate the tree

Before you remove your Christmas tree from your house or apartment, you should of course first take down all the ornaments, stars and fairy lights. But don't forget the tinsel or angel hair, because these must not be put in the compost or incinerated, as this will spread the toxic lead into the environment. This also applies to fir trees that have been treated with glitter paint or decorative spray, because these must be disposed of with the general waste or at the local recycling center.

Do not burn

If you don't put your Christmas tree in the organic waste bin or have not decided on any other method of recycling, you may be thinking about burning the tree in the oven to heat your home. However, this is only possible if you dry the wood for at least two years after cutting up the branches and trunks. When fresh wood is burned, the formation of creosote is accelerated, which can cause a chimney fire.

Observe local regulations

The disposal of Christmas trees is regulated differently in many cities and municipalities, so you should definitely find out about the regulations in your hometown.

Often the tree can be sawn up and chopped up and placed in the organic waste bin - in other places it can even be placed next to it as a whole.

Other communities, however, prefer that the used trees be taken to the recycling center, where they are processed into wood chips for energy production or into compost.

Don’t just leave it on your doorstep

Never leave your old Christmas tree on the side of the road or on the sidewalk or bike path. It will be a hindrance to others and can lead to severe penalties. If the public order office catches you disposing of it illegally, the fines list states that you can be fined between 30 and 50 euros for one tree - or up to 200 euros for several trees.

If the cycle path is blocked, you can expect a 60 euro fine and even a point in Flensburg.

Can your Christmas tree go in the organic waste bin?

Disposing of the Christmas tree in the organic waste bin actually sounds logical and obvious, because a real fir tree is 100% biodegradable and local.

Therefore, you can always put a small Christmas tree - cut up, of course - in the organic waste bin with a clear conscience.

In Berlin alone, around 350,000 Christmas trees are collected every year and sustainably converted into electricity and district heating in biomass power plants.

According to WWF calculations, this energy can supply around 500 households with heat for up to a year.

However, always check the local regulations, as these vary depending on where you live when it comes to organic waste.

Don’t throw the tree into the forest

While it may sound like a good idea to let the Christmas tree rot where it originally came from, you should never consider disposing of it in the forest or a park.

The reason for this is that the tree would take far too long to rot in the wild. Your Christmas tree would therefore be considered garbage and improper disposal in the forest would also result in a fine.

Off to the garbage collection

In most municipalities in Germany, Christmas trees are collected by garbage collection in January after Epiphany. You can find the relevant date in the garbage calendar for your area. All you have to do is take down your tree and put it out on the street the evening before, where it will be collected. But make sure you don't put it in a plastic bag.

Alternatively, there are Christmas tree collection points in many places, such as schoolyards or large squares.

Composting into black gold

If you have your own garden, the best solution to get rid of your Christmas tree is definitely composting - assuming your tree is untreated.

Composting is a great way to prevent tons of recyclable and biodegradable waste from ending up in landfills each year. Not only does it minimize greenhouse gas emissions, it also saves a lot of labor and resources in the garbage collection and waste disposal process.

Christmas trees are a great source of minerals and nutrients. Using this compost allows them to be absorbed by the garden, resulting in good soil health.

If that takes too long, you can also use the old fir or spruce branches as frost protection on beds or flower boxes. Conifer branches are also beneficial when it comes to keeping snails away. The sharp needles and branches bother the animals and so they stay away from your bed.

A playground for animals

To ensure that your Christmas tree still has a function after you've taken it down, you can cut it into smaller pieces with hedge trimmers and stack them on top of each other in the garden - this will provide shelter for the animals in winter. You can also take them to the nearest zoo or wildlife park.

Thicker branches and twigs are great climbing and perching poles for birds, mice or other small animals. But larger animals also enjoy the old Christmas trees and use them as food or toys.

Horse owners can offer the branches to their animals to nibble on, so you can also ask at riding stables or farms if they have any use for your old tree.

In summary

So, to return to the original question... Can the Christmas tree go in the organic waste bin? The answer is quite clear: Maybe.

Be sure to check your local regulations as they vary slightly from place to place, but you do have a few other options, such as composting the tree, drying and burning the branches, or disposing of them in a garden or wildlife park.

If your tree is made of plastic, treated or decorated with glitter or decorative spray, you should put it in the residual waste or take it to your local recycling center and find out about the correct way to dispose of it.