Where to Compost or Recycle Your Christmas Tree in the Bay Area

Workers compost Christmas trees. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Don't go over your city or county's Christmas tree composting/recycling cliff. Now that the holidays are wrapping up, it's time to start a new year fresh. Find out when, where and how to get rid of that old tree with our comprehensive annual guide.

No county or city accepts decorated trees for curbside pickup, although some Boy Scout troops do for a charge. Most counties compost their trees. And many don't accept flocked trees. (What is a flocked tree? A tree sprayed with artificial snow. It's just what it's called. Let it go.) We've included city information as specific as possible.

Alameda County

Albany

510-613-8710

Holiday trees are collected through the month of January at no charge. Place your tree at the curb next to your green waste, recycling and trash carts on your regular pickup day. Trees taller than 6 feet must be cut into lengths of 6 feet or smaller. Remove all tinsel, ornaments, nails and tree stands. Green trees only; flocked trees will not be accepted. After Jan. 31, trees will not be collected curbside, unless they are cut up and properly placed in your green waste cart.

Berkeley

510-981-7270

Through Jan. 31, you can place your holiday tree at the curb on your normal collection day.Trees must be cut to a maximum of 5 feet tall. You may also choose to drop off your holiday tree at the Berkeley Transfer Station at no charge during the month of January. Businesses and residents of multi-family buildings who don't normally have plant debris service can call 311 (or 510-981-7270) to schedule the service. After January, you can cut up your tree to fit in your plant debris cart, or you can bring it to the Transfer Station for the minimum compost fee of $23. Please remove all lights, decorations, tinsel, bags and tree stands. Flocked trees and trees treated with fire retardant are OK.

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Dublin

925-479-9545

You may place your holiday tree at the curb by 5:30 a.m. on your regular service day through Jan. 3. A truck exclusively for recycling holiday trees will collect the trees. Only clean trees will be taken (no flocking or tinsel). Please cut trees down to 4 feet or less in height; remove bases or stands. You may place your holiday tree in your organics cart, along with acceptable yard trimmings, anytime after the holiday. Your cart will be emptied on your regular service day. Only clean trees are accepted (no flocking or tinsel). Tree branches and stumps must be cut up in lengths that will allow the lid to securely close.

For a $5 donation per tree, local Boy Scouts will also pick up holiday trees from Dublin residents on Saturday, Jan. 3. Reservations are required and must be made by Jan. 1. To make arrangements, please send your email request to xmastreepickup@dublintroop905.org or call (925) 967-2141.

Amador Valley Industries can pick up your non-recyclable holiday tree. Please call 925-479-9545 to arrange for disposal of your flocked or tinseled tree. An additional fee may apply, unless you use one of the three Large Item Collections available to you per year at no cost.

Emeryville

510-613-2104

Trees are collected curbside on regular collection days during the month of January. Place your tree at the curb next to your green waste, recycling and trash carts on your regular pickup day. Trees taller than 6 feet must be cut into lengths of 6 feet or smaller. Remove all tinsel, ornaments, nails and tree stands. Green trees only. Flocked trees will not be accepted. After Jan. 31, trees will not be collected curbside without additional charge unless they are cut up and properly placed into your green waste cart.

Fremont

510-657-3500

Remove all decorations, tinsel, lights, nails and tree stands prior to pickup or dropoff. Trees that have any of these items are not compostable. Trees that contain fire retardant or flocking are not compostable. Curbside trees will be picked up until Jan. 9 on your scheduled yard waste collection day. Leave your tree out using one of the methods listed here. For apartment/condo/town homeowners and managers, see here.

Boy Scouts will also collect Christmas trees on Saturday, Jan. 3. There is a $5 fee for compostable trees and $10 fee for non-compostable trees. All pickup orders must be made by Dec. 31. To arrange pickup, leave a message on the City's Environmental Services Hotline at 510-494-4580. The recorded message will prompt you for the necessary information. Please do not place tree near the gutter or on the sidewalk. Instead, place your tree on your lawn, driveway or other designated outdoor area (visible from the street) that you arrange.

Hayward

510-537-5500

The garbage collection service will pick up Christmas trees for recycling during the first two weeks of January. Residents can recycle their cut-up tree in their green cart at any time. Residents must remove tinsel, ornaments, nails and tree stands; cut trees into 5-foot pieces, and set the tree at the curb next to refuse and yard waste carts. After the two-week period, trees set out at the curb, but not in the green cart, can be picked up for a fee, but the trees will not be recycled.

Oakland

510-638-2303

Flocked trees cannot be recycled and must be put inside your garbage container. Free pickup for one- to four-unit residences:

  • First two weeks of January — Place your clean, green holiday tree at the curb, next to your green yard trimmings cart on your regularly scheduled yard trimmings collection day; remove all tinsel, ornaments, nails and tree stands (metal or wood); place trees curbside by 6 a.m. on collection day and no earlier than one day before. Trees must be no more than 5 feet tall. Cut taller trees in half.
  • After first two weeks of January — Recycle your clean, green holiday tree in your green yard trimmings cart at any time. Lid must close. Take clean, green holiday trees to the Davis Street Transfer Station for recycling at no charge, limit one tree per household.

For five-unit residences or larger: Tenants may take clean, green holiday trees to the Davis Street Transfer Station (510-638-2303) for recycling at no charge, limit one tree per household. Property owners/managers may call Waste Management of Alameda County (510-613-8700) to get a price quote for services and to schedule pickup.

Pleasanton

925-846-2042

Pleasanton Garbage Service will pick up Christmas trees that are placed at the curb on Saturday, Jan. 10. Trees must be placed curbside the night before pickup and cut in 4-foot sections. Please remove stands, tinsel, ornaments and lights. Pleasanton Garbage Service is not responsible for any decorations that are left on the tree. Or, you can place your Christmas tree, cut in 2-foot sections, inside your green waste container and it will be picked up on your regular pickup day. Pleasanton residents may also bring Christmas trees to the Transfer Station at 3110 Busch Rd. free of charge until Feb. 1.

Boy Scout Troop 941 in Pleasanton will hold its annual Christmas Tree Pickup and Recycling Day on Saturday, Jan. 3. For more information or to place a reservation online, please visit Boy Scout Troop 941 at www.Troop941.Org.

San Leandro

Contact your service provider for details.
Place your Christmas tree curbside on your regularly scheduled collection day during the first two weeks in January. Remember to remove all tinsel and ornaments, cut your tree down if it is larger than 6 feet and set it out on the curb with your yard trimmings cart for collection. Trees will be recycled into mulch for use in landscaping applications.

Union City

510-471-3850

Tri-CED will be collecting trees until Jan. 31. On your regular collection day, simply set your tree at the curb or place inside the green yard waste cart. Trees will be hauled to the compost facility. No flocked, bagged, excessively heavy or tinseled holiday trees. Remove lights, ornaments, tinsel and other trimmings from branches. Remove tree stands, metal or wood. If it fits, place the tree inside the green yard waste cart for collection on your service day. If your tree does not fit inside your yard waste cart, please cut it in half, place half inside the yard waste container and the other half in the gutter next to your cart. You can also drop off trees at Tri-CED Recycling Center, 33377 Western Ave., Monday through Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Contra Costa County

Pittsburg

925-473-0180

Remove all tinsel, flocking, ornaments and tree stand. Place your Christmas tree at the curb, on your yard waste day and it will be recycled at no additional charge. If your tree is 5 feet or longer, cut it in half. (Flocked trees can be picked up, but cannot be recycled.)

San Ramon

925-837-3356

There are three options, but all trees must be clean and no flocked trees are accepted.

1. Boy Scouts of America Annual Fundraiser Tree Pickup Day is Saturday, Jan. 3. For a $5 donation, Boy Scouts will pick up your tree. Visit www.sanramonscouts.org, e-mail sanramontrees@yahoo.com, or call 925-362-8960 to schedule a pickup.

2. Waste Management yard trimmings/green waste cart: Cut tree into lengths that will easily fit into cart and allow lid to completely close. Place tree pieces into cart anytime after holidays.

3. Special one-time tree pickup week of Jan. 5. Set out tree at curb for pickup by a special truck. Cut larger trees into lengths of 6 feet or less.

Marin County

415-456-2601

One Christmas tree per unit will be picked up throughout January at the curb on regularly scheduled pickup days. Trees more than 6 feet tall must be cut in half and trees must not have fake snow on them. Marin Sanitary customers can also drop off up to two Christmas trees for free at the Marin Resource Recovery Center at 565 Jacoby St., San Rafael. Apartment managers should schedule a pickup day for their apartment complex. After Jan. 31, pickup or dropoff is $5.

Mill Valley

Trees will be picked up on regular yard waste days throughout January. Trees more than 5 feet tall must be cut in half. Put trees next to green cans. Homestead Valley customers without green cans can put their trees on the curb on a yard waste day.

Novato

Trees will be picked up from Jan. 5 to Jan. 9 on regular collection days. Place next to curb or cut and fit inside yard waste container. Remove all lights, tinsel, ornaments and stands. Flocked trees will not be accepted. You can also recycle your tree as part of the San Marin High School Safe Grad Fundraiser. There is a suggested donation of $10 for pickup ($25 for a flocked tree). To schedule, call 415-899-9223 or email SMTreeRecycle@gmail.com. You can also drop off your tree for a suggested $5 donation ($15 for a flocked tree) at the San Marin High School parking lot on Jan. 3, 4, 10 and 11.

West Marin

Remove all trim and decorations. Trees can be dropped off until Jan. 16 at the Point Reyes Fire Station, Tomales Fire Station or Woodacre Fire Station. Or you can cut the tree to fit completely inside your yard waste cart, with the lid closed, and it will be picked up on a regular service day.

Napa County

707-255-5200

Napa Valley District Boy Scouts will pick up trees left on the curb by 9 a.m. on Jan. 3. They ask for a donation of $8. A Boy Scout will come to your door to collect the money. If you miss the pickup, you can leave your tree on the curb on your normal pickup day, starting the following Monday. Cut trees over 8 feet in half. You can also recycle old Christmas lights at the Napa Recycling and Waste Services office.

San Francisco County

415-330-1300

Residents can place trees at the curb next to waste bins on regularly scheduled pickup days from Jan. 2 to Jan. 16. Trees taller than 6 feet need to be cut in half.

You can also bring your clean tree (no ornaments, tinsel, or fake snow) to City Grazing for their goats to eat. Drop off is either Dec. 29-31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or Jan. 3, 4 from 10 a.m. to noon. Email goats@citygrazing.com. City Grazing is at 100 Cargo Way in San Francisco. Look for signs for San Francisco Bay Rail and Waste Solutions Group. The goat yard is across the gravel lot just to the right as you come in the gates, by the goat mural.

San Mateo County

Place trees curbside on normal day of your yard waste pickup during the month of January. Tree length maximum sizes vary depending on the recycling company. Most of the recycling companies do not accept flocked trees. Check here for your pickup requirements. Residents without regular trash pickup can drop off their trees at several locations.

Santa Clara County

Campbell

West Valley Collection and Recycling will pick up trees on the curb during regular service until Jan. 23. Trees must be less than 5 feet tall and placed at least 1 foot from carts.

Cupertino

408-725-4020

Curbside pickup is available. Trees must be undecorated and cut into 5-foot lengths. Residents can leave their trees on the curb or put inside the yard waste bin with the lid closed, and they will be picked up with yard waste. Apartment residents should place all trees in a central location and call to arrange a pickup.

Unincorporated Cupertino

408-725-4020

Curbside pickup is available during the month of January. Place undecorated tree by the yard waste bin on pickup day; small trees may be placed inside the bin. Apartment residents should place all trees in a central location and call to arrange a pickup.

Gilroy

408-842-3358

Cut trees into 3-foot sections and place on curb next to bin on regular pickup day. Trees may be cut into small pieces and placed inside of yard waste bin, but lid must close. Tree stands must be removed. Call for more information.

Los Altos

408-918-4640

Curbside pickup is available during the month of January. Place undecorated trees by the yard waste bin on pickup day; small trees may be placed inside the bin. Apartment residents should place all trees in a central location and call to arrange a pickup.

Los Gatos

West Valley Collection and Recycling will pick up trees on the curb during regular service until Jan. 23. Trees must cut into segments less than 5 feet tall and placed 1 foot away from the garbage and recycling carts.

Milpitas

408-432-0444

Residents should place their undecorated trees (flocked trees are OK) by the curb on their pickup day by Jan. 9. Trees should be cut into 4-foot lengths.

San Jose

Recycle your holiday tree on your regular collection day from Dec. 26 throughout the month of January. Trees should then be cut into 5-foot lengths and placed in the street one foot from the curb and 5 feet from your garbage and recycling carts and parked vehicles. Natural and flocked trees accepted. If you live in an apartment, townhouse or condo, ask your property manager if special arrangements have been made for recycling holiday trees on-site.

Solano County

Most cities and unincorporated areas do allow for curbside collection. Often trees must be cut down to 5 feet or into 3-foot sections, depending on the city. The Reporter has a nice summary of pickup times here, and includes several Boy Scout troops that will also be picking up trees.

Sonoma County
707-565-3579

Residents have four options for getting rid of their Christmas trees this year:

  • Cut trees to fit in the yard waste container with the lid closed. The following cities (and unincorporated Sonoma County) can put whole trees next to the yard waste bin: Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa and Windsor. Check collection dates here.
  • Residents can also call 707-565-3333 to make an appointment and a nonprofit will pick up your whole tree. Suggested $7 donation for trees less than 6 feet tall and $10 for larger trees. Call before Jan. 10.
  • In the following cities, residents may drop off up to two trees, free of charge: Cloverdale, Cotati, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Windsor and some unincorporated areas. Check the website for locations and times for each city and unincorporated areas.
  • Additionally, multifamily apartment complexes in Rohnert Park can arrange to have the complex's trees picked up by special appointment. Apartment managers should make further arrangements; check the website.

 

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