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

Workers chip a Christmas tree in front of San Francisco's City Hall.  (Vinnee Tong/KQED)

Our comprehensive Christmas tree recycling guide is back and updated again to keep you from going over your city or county’s Christmas tree composting/recycling cliff.

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, or trees sprayed with artificial snow. We have tried our best to answer when, where and how to recycle your tree this new year.

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. 

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Berkeley

510-981-7270

You can place your holiday tree at the curb on your normal collection day through the month of January. 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 multifamily 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 will be collected, but they are not compostable.

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. 2. 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. Please remove bases or stand. 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. 2. To make arrangements, please send your email request to xmastreepickup@dublintroop905.org or call 925-967-2141. Only clean trees will be accepted. No flocking or tinsel allowed. Please remove the tree base or stand.

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

For single-family units, 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 in your green waste cart.

Multifamily dwellings of four or more units have the option of setting the trees curbside, setting the trees in the centralized trash/recycling area or ordering a roll-off box at no charge.

For properties that are setting trees curbside or in the central trash or recycling area, Waste Management will check for trees on Monday Jan. 4 and Monday Jan. 11, or Tuesday Jan. 5 and Tuesday Jan. 12, depending on your location. To order a roll-off box, please contact Ben Collins with Waste Management at collins@wm.com or 510-613-2149

Tenants wishing to keep their tree longer than Jan. 12 or who have a flocked tree may bring their tree to Davis Street Transfer Station at 2615 Davis St. in San Leandro. One clean green tree per household may be recycled at no charge. A fee will be charged for flocked trees.

Fremont

510-657-3500

Republic Services will service Christmas trees curbside at no charge for single-family residents that have weekly yard waste service from Monday Dec. 28 to Friday Jan. 8. Residents of multifamily dwellings can check here or contact your property management for disposal options.

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.

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. For free pickup at 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.

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. After the 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.

Pleasanton

925-846-2042

Pleasanton Garbage Service will pick up Christmas trees that are placed at the curb the night of Jan. 15. 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. You can also 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 Boy Scout Troop 941 will conduct its annual Christmas Tree Recycling Pickup community service event and fundraiser on Saturday Jan. 9.  As a Pleasanton resident or business you will be able to make a reservation for tree pickup. Registration closes on Jan. 7 at 5 p.m. Donations are not required to have them pick up your tree, but you may make a donation if you'd like to.

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 the end of January. 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 ways to recycle your Christmas tree:

  • Boy Scouts of America Annual Fundraiser: Tree Pickup Day is Saturday, Jan. 2. For a $10 donation, local Boy Scouts will pick up your tree. Visit www.sanramonscouts.org, e-mail Trees@sanramonscouts.org, or call 925-587-8733.
  • 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 any time after holidays.
  • Special One-Time Tree Pickup is the week of Jan. 4. Set your tree at curb for pickup by a special truck. Cut larger trees into lengths of 6 feet or less.

Trees with flocking, tinsel or tree stands: call Waste Management at 925-837-3356 to arrange for collection at an additional pickup fee.

Marin County

415-456-2601

Trees will be collected at the curb during the month of January. Each resident is allowed one free tree pickup on your regular service day. Simply place your tree by the side of your green cart, NOT inside it. Cut the tree in half if it is more than 6 feet in length. Remove all ornaments and metal strands.  Flocked trees are not allowed, but for a small fee you can bring flocked trees to the Marin Resource Recovery Center.

You can also drop off up to two trees free of charge at the Marin Resource Recovery Center, located at 565 Jacoby St. in San Rafael, during the month of January.

Apartment tree collection information can be found here.

Mill Valley

You can put your trees out on the curb on any regular green can day, starting after Christmas Day. Trees left by garbage cans will not be picked up.

Homestead Valley customers without green cans can leave their trees on the curb when they see their neighbors putting green cans out. All ornaments, tinsel and metal stands must be removed from your tree (wooden stands are OK). Cut any tree over 5 feet tall in half so it can be easily handled. Flocked trees are OK to put out.

Novato

415-897-4177

For all regular curbside pickup customers, your tree will be picked up with your regular service. Trees over 6 feet must be cut in half. Flocked trees not 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 request pickup, click here or email SMTreeRecycle@gmail.com. For more on dates for dropoff, click here

West Marin

Cut trees to fit inside your yard waste cart for pickup on any regular service day. Flocked trees will not be collected.

You may also drop off trees Dec. 26 through Jan. 15 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Point Reyes (Fourth and B streets), Tomales (599 Dillon Beach Road), and Woodacre (33 Castle Rock Road) fire stations. Trees may also be dropped off at the Bolinas-Stinson Recovery Park, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  at 25 Olema–Bolinas Road.

Napa County

707-255-5200

Napa Valley District Boy Scouts Christmas Tree Pickup and Recycling Day comes to Napa on Saturday, Jan. 9. Have your tree on the curb by 9 a.m. on Saturday morning.  Do not set out your tree earlier in the week, since tree collection will not take place until Saturday. Trees must be free of ornaments, nails, tinsel, stands and metal spikes.  All are contaminants or safety hazards. A voluntary donation of $10 per tree is suggested and appreciated. Cut trees over 8 feet in half.  Flocked trees are accepted.  Wreaths, pumpkins and other holiday greenery go in the compost cart.

San Francisco County

415-330-1300

The Christmas Tree Collection program runs Jan. 2 through Jan. 15. Place trees at the curb next to your recycling bins on your regular collection day.

You can also bring your clean tree (no ornaments, tinsel or fake snow) to City Grazing for their goats to eat. Email goats@citygrazing.com or call 415-642-7172. 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 yard waste pickup days 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 through the third full week of January. Trees must be less than 5 feet tall and placed at least 1 foot from carts. Trees exceeding 5 feet in length, flocked and decorated trees will not be collected.

For multifamily residents and complexes, holiday tree dumpsters available for rent. Owners and/or property managers must contact Customer Service at 408-283-9250 for information regarding the collection of holiday trees.

Cupertino

408-725-4020

Recology will provide free Christmas tree collection and recycling through the month of January. Please remove tree stands and all decorations, including tinsel. Flocked trees are acceptable. Trees should be cut into 5-foot lengths. Cut pieces may be placed inside your yard waste cart for service. Place trees in a central location and call to arrange pickup.

Gilroy

408-842-3358

Trees are collected at no charge. Trees must be cut into 3-foot-by-3-footsections and placed at the curb for collection. Look for collection dates and information in your newsletter and your October garbage bill.

Los Altos

Collection provided no charge for two weeks after Christmas. Contact Mission Trail Waste Systems at 650-473-1400

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. 8. 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

707 784-6765

Curbside, dropoff, and special pickup services are available for Christmas trees throughout the county. Programs take place during the end of December and early January each year. 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

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

  • Cut the tree to fit in your yard waste container or have your whole tree picked up at the curb. Put your tree in your yard waste container and place at the curb on your regular yard waste collection day. The tree must be cut to fit inside the container (4 foot or less sections, please). Cloverdale, Cotati, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Windsor and unincorporated Sonoma County have whole tree collection.  Place your unflocked tree beside your yard waste container.
  • Call 707-565-3333 for an appointment to have a nonprofit in your area pick up your tree. Call before Friday, Jan. 8, to arrange for pickup. The suggested donation for this service is $7 for trees less than 6 feet and $10 for larger trees.
  • 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.
  • There is also free dropoff throughout the county.

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