How To Recycle Your Christmas Tree in LA

On the 12th day of Christmas my city gave to me - a chance to recycle my Christmas tree!

Whether from a lot at the corner or a cut-your-own farm in LA's outer regions, we lug those lovely-smelling, triangular chunks of evergreen wonder home on top of our cars each December amid singing, warm drinks, and family bonding. Thoughts of what will become of them a few weeks later are pushed to the outer regions of our To Do Lists. Well, the 12th day of Christmas is fast upon us, and our To Do Lists have come home to roost. Exhausting as it may sound after all the revelry, recycling a Christmas tree does not have to be difficult to arrange; all you need is a little information - which we've taken the time to assemble here!

If you live in the city of Los Angeles itself, tree recycling couldn't be easier; the city will pick up your tree on your normal curbside trash/recycling collection day, recycling them into compost and mulch. The same applies in several other LA area communities, including Beverly Hills, Culver City, Glendale, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, West Hollywood, and most parts of Orange and Ventura counties. (Note: most areas collect through mid-January, but most Ventura County residents need to get it together by Jan 8 to avoid a charge.)

Follow these instructions for curbside collection, whatever your community:

  1. Remove all ornaments, decorations, tinsels, or stand from the tree
  2. If using the green bin, cut the tree in pieces to fit into the green bin. Otherwise, set it next to the bin.
  3. Do not place the tree in any kind of bag.
  4. Flocked trees cannot be recycled.

A few communities have limitations or more specific directions for tree collection. Following the directions below will make sure that the tree that gave you so much joy this season ends its days recycled in the way that is best for the planet:

Santa Monica residents, after years of piling Christmas trees into wagons and lugging them to local parks, now have curbside composting. Drag that tree no farther than the alley or the curb, and your job is done, in the most eco-friendly was possible. Please remember that trees will NOT be collected from the parks.

Malibu offers one location (the Chili Cook-off lot) to drop trees off anytime from December 26 through January 12. If not brought to this drop-off spot, the tree must be cut up to fit in a green waste bin.

Long Beach offers curbside pick-up on January 11 (one day only), or invites residents to drop off trees December 26 through January 10 at several locations 9am-5pm weekdays or 9am-2pm weekends.

Burbank's Recycle Center picks up from curbs and alleys (January 6-24) and accepts drop-offs at McCambridge, Ralph Foy, and Verdugo Parks (December 26 - January 24). Requests for tree collection after this will cost.

Pasadena residents should either cut their trees to fit in their yard waste containers for curbside pick-up or bring them to be recycled by dropping them at Eaton Blanche or Robinson Park December 26 - January 4. Trees are also collected from curbside January 2-12.

If the hassle of dragging your tree out seems like more effort than you care to repeat, next year consider a living Christmas tree; those get picked up by cheery fellows with strong backs!

Wishing everyone a healthy, happy 2020.

Originally published January 3, 2012

Photo by Ann Oro

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