In many German households, Christmas trees are traditionally banned from the house on January 6th. In contrast to the legendary Ikea advertising, which shows how all the fir trees are thrown on the street in Sweden on St. Knuts Day, in Germany we usually have to take care of the disposal of the trees ourselves.
Above all, it is important that the tree is completely decorated first. Under no circumstances should tinsel be thrown in the garbage, as it contains lead which would be released if burned. In any case, consumers should inform themselves beforehand, because anyone who illegally dumps their fir tree in the forest or simply throws the tree with jewelry on the street can face fines of up to 500 euros. But what is the best way to dispose of the Christmas tree and then also sustainably?
We introduce you to a few options.
Collection by local waste disposal companies
The easiest way is to have the tree picked up by the local waste disposal company. Many municipalities, municipalities and cities offer a free pick-up service on certain dates until well into January. You can find these either in the local waste calendar or generally on the companies’ websites. Often it is enough to simply place the tree next to the organic waste bin or, at the scheduled times, to place the fir on the side of the road, preferably the evening before or by 6 a.m. on the day of collection at the latest. You shouldn’t put it in a plastic bag.
In Berlin, 350,000 Christmas trees are collected every year and sustainably converted into district heating and electricity in biomass power plants. According to calculations by the WWF, around 500 households can be supplied with heat for a year with the energy generated by the Berlin Christmas trees.
Delivery to collection points
Some cities and towns also offer special containers or collection points for disposal. Usually this is also free. Here you also have to get information from the local waste disposal company.
In the bio bin?
In a few municipalities and municipalities, it seems to be allowed to dispose of the Christmas trees in the organic waste bin. According to the Berlin waste disposal companies, this is not a good way to go because the trunks and branches are not suitable for fermentation in the biogas plant. Here it is worth checking in advance with the local waste disposal company.
Some zoos and animal parks also partly accept old Christmas trees, but they must come from organic or eco-certified cultivation. The trees can serve as both food and toys for animals such as camels and elephants.
The Berlin disposal company BSR writes, for example, that used trees are not suitable for elephant feed, only trees that are left over from fir sellers. The WWF says that some small animal enclosures or riding stables are happy to accept the fir trees for horses and co. To nibble on. It is worth asking here just once. Please do not just feed the trees to animals. According to the WWF, Nordmann firs are also not suitable for horses to eat.
Reuse in the garden
A sustainable option is to upcycling or reusing the individual parts of the tree. The branches of the fir trees are ideal as frost protection for beets or plants in winter. Alternatively, you can chop the tree in a chopper and distribute it as mulch in the beds.
Burn in the oven
If you have a stove at home, you can also use the wood from the Christmas trees for lighting. However, it is important here that the tree has not been sprayed with artificial snow or the like. Before that, the tree should also be dried well.
Plant in the garden
If you buy a living tree in a pot, you can either leave it in the pot over the year and water it or plant it in the garden and dig it up again on Christmas Eve. So you don’t have to buy a new tree every year, which is the most sustainable anyway.