Westmoreland Cleanways and Recycling would like to encourage everyone to continue the spirit of giving by recycling your live Christmas tree. After the festivities are finished, you can take your tree to one of many drop-off sites located throughout Westmoreland County. The trees will either be chipped into mulch by the municipalities and used to beautify community parks, or placed in natural areas to provide wildlife habitat.
All locations request that trees are completely bare of decorations when dropped off. This includes any tree bags or wrappings used to transport the tree to the drop-off site.
There is no cost to recycle your Christmas tree, but some organizations hosting tree recycling sites collect donations to fund their own projects such as:
- • Boy Scout Troup 239 collecting trees at Shramms Farm and Orchards in Penn Township
- • The Burrell High School Environmental Club collecting trees at the Lower Burrell Maintenance Building
- • The Murrysville-Export Rotary collecting trees at the lot adjacent to the Windstream parking lot in Murrysville
Sponsors of the 2015-2016 Christmas tree recycling program include: Westmoreland Cleanways, the Westmoreland County Sportsmens League, the James A. Rutter Company in Murrysville, the Penn Township Commissioners, and the Borough of Youngwood.
Christmas Tree-Cycling is beneficial to the environment.
• Recycling your Christmas tree returns it to nature, completing the recycling loop. Once the tree is chipped, the chips can be used for mulch or as a surface for hiking trails. The chips then decompose into valuable humus, nourishing and renewing the soil.
• It is estimated that 1 live tree Christmas tree makes 5 pounds of mulch.
• If not used for mulch, many communities depend on recycled Christmas trees to provide wildlife habitats that prevent beachfront erosion, improve shoreline stabilization on rivers and lakes, and improve fish habitat.
• If not recycled, live trees thrown away with the garbage in most cases end up taking up space in a landfill.
The Live Versus Artificial Debate... No Contest
There is an on going debate as to whether it is more eco-friendly to purchase a live tree or an artificial one. Real trees are a renewable and recyclable resource. According to the National Christmas Tree Growers Association, in 2012 there were approximately 13,000 farms, devoting over 309,000 acres of land to growing Christmas Trees in the U.S. Trees from these farms support complex eco-systems, and absorb carbon dioxide and other gases while releasing oxygen. Christmas Trees also stabilize soil, protect water supplies and provide refuge for wildlife. Often, Christmas Trees are grown on soil that doesn't support other crops. Live trees continue to be beneficial after the holiday season. When recycled, the trees can be used for mulch or wildlife habitat.
In contrast, 85% of artificial trees are factory-made in China, using methods that consume natural resources. Typically, the type of plastic that artificial trees are made from is PVC, which can be a potential source of lead. Lead-containing PVC can be harmful to children and pets. The plastic used in manufactured trees is also a petroleum by-product. They are non-biodegradable and not recyclable or renewable. Most will eventually end up in landfills, where they will remain for centuries.
For more information about Live Christmas Trees, visit the National Christmas Tree Association website.
Tree-cycling is truly giving a gift back to the community. This holiday season, when the festivities have ended, extend the spirit of giving by recycling your live Christmas tree.