Where does your recycled Christmas tree go?

For the past 24 years, the Philadelphia Streets Department’s recycling program has given residents a chance to recycle their holiday trees and wreaths during the first two weeks of the year.

At the Area 4 drop-off center in Roxborough, one compactor truck, which can hold 6 to 7 tons of trees, was filled to the brim since the drop-off began on Jan. 3. This center and two others, one in Southwest Philadelphia and one in the far Northeast, are expected to collect about 50 tons by the end of the program on Jan. 16.

“This year it’s been kinda slower than years in the past,” said Donald Carlton, Operations Chief for the department’s Sanitation Division.

Carlton says twice as many trees were recycled when the city could offer residents curbside pick-up but because of budget cuts, the city resorted to the drop-off program. Since the tree drop-off began, the amount of tree recycling has increased by about one truck, 6 to 7 tons, in its three-year lifespan.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Trees left on the curb this year will be considered trash and picked up by the city. Recycled trees take a trip to Delaware for composting and are used specifically to soak up liquid runoff squeezed from other materials.

“In today’s climate, I’m not sure if we can afford to go curbside,” said Carlton, “but we also talk about trying to make more people aware, we do want to advertise.”

Carlton says nearly 60 Philadelphia residents drop off their trees on a daily basis, but no one stopped by during Thursday’s noontime rush. 

The drop-off recycling center is located on the 300 block of Domino Street in Roxborough and is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Those dropping off trees should bring proof of Philadelphia residence.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal