Keeping the green in evergreen: Recycled Christmas trees live on in the form of compost or mulch

The holiday season inevitably comes to an end each year.

But if you recycle your tree, there’s a good chance it will live on in the form of mulch or compost that can nourish a new generation of plant life.

Trees that are processed through Pierce County Public Works and Utilities become compost.

“All trees collected are composted into Cascade Compost, a beneficial soil amendment that is popular with home and commercial gardeners,” said Sheryl Rhinehart, outreach coordinator for the agency. “The compost created enhances soil quality, saves water and reduces reliance on chemical fertilizers.”

Recycling holiday trees also saves valuable landfill space, she added.

Distributors of Cascade Compost sell both bagged and bulk compost, which is made from Christmas trees and other yard waste collected by Pierce County’s curbside yard waste collection program. Go to cascadecompost.com/where-to-buy for a list of where to buy both bulk and bagged compost from this source.

Gary Kato, solid waste division manager for the city of Tacoma, said the city’s recycled holiday trees can take several paths.

City workers grind some trees into wood chips that can be used for mulch on city planting and landscaping projects. He said there isn’t much of a commercial market for wood chips derived from Christmas trees, which tend to include green needles.

“It’s good, and it smells nice,” he said. But he said most residential buyers don’t want the mixed material for their yards.

Trees that aren’t destined for the city’s chip machine go to a commercial compost facility on South Hill.

“One way or another, it’s recycled,” Kato said.