From Repurposing to Recycling: The Ultimate Guide to Artificial Christmas Tree Disposal

January 14, 2023 in environment, recycling

Article summary and Key takeaways: Artificial Christmas trees can be reused, repurposed, donated, or recycled when they need to be replaced. Reusing options include DIY projects and crafts, using them as outdoor decorations, or donating them to schools or community centers. Recycling options involve finding recycling centers or facilities near your location, removing lights and decorations, and following specific recycling methods and processes. Donating to organizations like Goodwill or the Salvation Army is also a viable option. Disposing of artificial trees with lights requires safety precautions and checking with local recycling centers or waste management agencies. Upcycling old artificial trees can be done by creating wreaths or garlands, making tree-shaped wall art or sculptures, or using branches for crafts or home decor. Local guidelines for disposing of Christmas trees may vary, so it’s important to check with your specific municipality. Overall, taking environmentally-friendly actions with artificial Christmas trees can contribute to a greener future.

Artificial Christmas trees have become increasingly popular in recent years, with many homeowners opting for the convenience and durability they offer over traditional live trees. While artificial trees can be reused for several years, there comes a time when they need to be replaced. The question then arises: Can you recycle artificial Christmas trees? In this article, we will explore the various options for recycling and proper disposal of artificial Christmas trees, as well as creative ways to repurpose them.

Reusing Artificial Christmas Trees

Before considering recycling options, it’s worth exploring the possibilities for reusing artificial Christmas trees. With a little creativity, you can give your old tree a new purpose and extend its lifespan.

1. DIY projects and crafts

One popular option for repurposing artificial Christmas trees is to use them for DIY projects and crafts. The branches can be cut and used to create wreaths, garlands, or other holiday decorations. You can also use the branches to make centerpieces or table displays for other occasions throughout the year.

For example, you could make a rustic farmhouse-style wreath by attaching the branches to a wire wreath frame and adding some burlap ribbon and pinecones. Another idea is to use the branches to create a unique wall art piece by arranging them in a tree shape and adding small ornaments or lights.

2. Outdoor decorations

If you have a large yard or outdoor space, consider repurposing your artificial Christmas tree as an outdoor decoration. You can use the tree as a focal point in your garden by adding lights or ornaments, or you can use the branches to create a unique trellis for climbing plants.

Another idea is to use the tree as a base for a bird feeder or birdhouse. Simply attach the feeder or house to the trunk or branches and place it in your garden to attract birds and add a touch of whimsy to your outdoor space.

3. Donating to schools or community centers

If your artificial Christmas tree is still in good condition, consider donating it to a local school or community center. Many organizations are in need of holiday decorations, and your tree could bring joy to others for years to come.

Reach out to schools or community centers in your area to see if they would be interested in accepting your donation. Make sure to properly clean and pack the tree before donating to ensure it is in the best condition possible.

Recycling Artificial Christmas Trees

If you are unable to repurpose your artificial Christmas tree or it is no longer in usable condition, recycling is the next best option. Recycling artificial trees not only helps reduce waste but also allows the materials to be used in the production of new products.

Finding recycling centers or facilities near your location

The first step in recycling your artificial Christmas tree is to find recycling centers or facilities near your location. Searching for “Christmas tree recycling near me” is a good starting point, as it will provide you with local options for recycling.

There are also online directories and resources available that can help you find recycling options in your area. Websites such as or allow you to search for recycling programs by entering your zip code or location.

Accepted materials and preparation for recycling

Before recycling your artificial Christmas tree, it’s important to remove any lights and decorations. These items cannot be recycled with the tree and should be disposed of separately. Once the tree is free of lights and decorations, you may need to disassemble it if it is too large to be accepted as a whole.

Check with the recycling center or facility for any specific requirements or guidelines they may have. Some centers may require the tree to be cut into smaller pieces or bundled together for easier processing.

Recycling methods and processes

Once your artificial Christmas tree is prepared for recycling, it can be processed using various methods. One common method is shredding and mulching, where the tree is broken down into small pieces that can be used as mulch in gardens or landscaping.

Another option is to repurpose the tree as biomass fuel. Artificial trees are made from petroleum-based materials, which can be burned to produce energy. Some recycling facilities may have the capability to convert the tree into biomass fuel for use in power generation.

Lastly, the materials from the tree can be recycled into new plastic products. The branches and trunk of the tree can be melted down and used in the production of new plastic items, reducing the need for virgin materials.

Donating Artificial Christmas Trees

If your artificial Christmas tree is still in good condition but you no longer have a use for it, donating it is a great option. There are several organizations and places that accept donations of artificial trees.

1. Goodwill’s policy on accepting artificial Christmas trees

Goodwill is known for accepting a wide range of donations, including artificial Christmas trees. However, their policy on accepting trees may vary by location, so it’s best to reach out to your local Goodwill store to inquire about their specific requirements and guidelines.

2. Salvation Army’s acceptance of artificial Christmas trees

The Salvation Army is another organization that often accepts donations of artificial Christmas trees. Contact your local Salvation Army location to find out if they are currently accepting trees and to ensure your donation meets their guidelines.

3. Other thrift stores and charitable organizations

In addition to Goodwill and the Salvation Army, there are many other thrift stores and charitable organizations that may accept donations of artificial Christmas trees. Local churches, shelters, or community centers may also be interested in receiving your donation.

When donating your artificial tree, make sure it is in good condition and clean. Proper packaging and transportation are important to ensure the tree arrives at its destination in the best possible condition.

Disposing of Artificial Christmas Trees with Lights

Artificial Christmas trees with lights require special consideration when it comes to disposal. Safety precautions should be followed when handling these trees, as they contain electrical components.

Safety precautions when handling trees with lights

Before disposing of an artificial Christmas tree with lights, it’s important to unplug the lights and remove any batteries if applicable. This will help prevent any potential electrical hazards during the disposal process.

Options for proper disposal

There are several options for properly disposing of artificial Christmas trees with lights. Local recycling centers that accept electronic waste may also accept trees with lights. Contact these centers or check their websites to find out their specific requirements and guidelines for accepting these items.

In some cases, municipal waste management guidelines may allow for the disposal of trees with lights in regular trash pickup. However, it’s always best to check with your local waste management agency to ensure compliance with their guidelines.

If you are unsure about the proper disposal method for your artificial tree with lights, consider contacting local electricians or recycling facilities for guidance. They may have specific recommendations or options for disposing of these items safely and responsibly.

Upcycling Old Artificial Christmas Trees

If you’re feeling particularly creative, there are many ways to upcycle old artificial Christmas trees into unique and functional items.

1. Creating wreaths or garlands

One idea is to use the branches of the old tree to create wreaths or garlands. By shaping the branches into a circular form and adding seasonal decorations or ornaments, you can create a beautiful wreath to hang on your front door or around your home.

Garlands can be made by attaching the branches together and adding ribbons or lights for a festive touch. These can be used to decorate staircases, mantels, or even outdoor spaces.

2. Making tree-shaped wall art or sculptures

Another creative option is to use the branches of the old tree to create tree-shaped wall art or sculptures. By arranging the branches in a tree shape and attaching them to a backing, you can create a unique and eye-catching piece of decor for your home.

For a more three-dimensional effect, consider using different lengths of branches and attaching them at various angles. This will give your tree-shaped wall art or sculpture a more realistic and textured appearance.

3. Using branches for crafts or home decor

The branches of old artificial Christmas trees can also be used for various crafts or home decor projects. Consider using the branches to create a natural-looking vase or centerpiece by placing them in a decorative container and adding flowers or other natural elements.

Another idea is to use the branches to make unique picture frames. Simply cut the branches into smaller pieces and attach them to a backing, leaving space for a photo in the center. This will add a rustic and charming touch to your home decor.

Local Guidelines for Disposing of Christmas Trees

Specific information for Chesapeake, VA:

1. Local recycling centers and facilities

Chesapeake, VA offers several options for recycling Christmas trees. The city holds an annual Christmas tree recycling event where residents can drop off their trees for recycling. Additionally, residents can take their trees to the city’s two recycling drop-off centers, where the trees will be accepted and processed accordingly.

2. Municipal waste management guidelines

Chesapeake, VA follows municipal waste management guidelines for the proper disposal of Christmas trees. Trees can be placed at the curb for regular trash pickup, as long as they are free of lights and decorations. The city encourages residents to remove the tree from any bags or containers before placing it at the curb.

It’s important to note that guidelines and options may vary depending on your specific location. It’s always best to check with your local municipality or waste management agency for the most up-to-date information.


Proper recycling and disposal of artificial Christmas trees are essential for reducing waste and minimizing the environmental impact. By reusing, recycling, or donating your artificial tree, you can give it a second life and contribute to a more sustainable holiday season. Take action and make environmentally-friendly choices with your artificial Christmas trees to help create a greener future for all.

Question 1:
Answer: Contact your local waste management facility or recycling center to inquire about proper disposal methods for fake Christmas trees.

Question 2:
Answer: You can reuse a fake Christmas tree for future holiday seasons or donate it to a local charity or organization in need of decorations.

Question 3:
Answer: Consider repurposing an old artificial Christmas tree by using its branches for crafting projects, creating wreaths, or using the trunk as a base for a new decorative item.

Question 4:
Answer: In Chesapeake VA, you can dispose of Christmas trees by placing them at the curb for collection on designated pick-up days or by taking them to a local recycling center.


About the author 

Jason Farland