SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco residents can rest assured knowing that their old Christmas trees will continue to keep giving well after they’ve been chopped up and recycled.

On Friday, Recology held the city’s 33rd Annual “Chipping of the Trees” event outside San Francisco City Hall, where crews fed previously decorated Christmas trees through a giant wood-chipper, transforming them into mulch.

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The mulch will then be used to provide nutrients to plants and trees for landscaping projects at commercial properties and city parks, according to Recology officials.

San Francisco Department of the Environment director Debbie Raphael said of the event, “It’s a great way to remind people that that Christmas tree in your home that looks so beautiful in your dining room, in your living room, has a life after you.”

She explained, “All the trees that we collect in San Francisco get chipped and then they get sent to Recology’s mulching facility and that mulch — some of it comes back to San Francisco, some actually gets colored and gets sold as landscaping mulch — so there is a big desire for mulched Christmas trees.”

Mulch, chunks of ground-up trees and vegetation, are used to spread over land and help prevent weeds from sprouting. They also help soil retain moisture and provide nutrients, increasing soil fertility.

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To recycle Christmas trees, residents should place their trees next to their compost bins the night before their scheduled collection day, anytime between Jan. 2 and 15. Using a special dedicated tree truck, Recology crews will then pick up the trees.

Residents should remove all plastic bags, lights, tinsel, stands, nails and any other decorations before putting the trees curbside. Trees taller than six feet must be cut in half, Recology officials said.

Last January, Recology was able to recycle more than 500 tons of trees.

In a statement, San Francisco Public Works director Mohammed Nuru said, “Not only does this ensure that discarded holiday trees will be put to good use as earth-friendly mulch but disposing of them properly also helps keep our neighborhoods clean and safe.”

For more information and to see Recology’s holiday collection schedule, visit

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