How to Recycle Trees and Yard Waste
The EPA estimates that 13.5 percent of all municipal solid waste is yard trimmings. That puts the category third behind paper and food scraps. If all yard trimmings were recycled, the agency says, we could keep over 33 million pounds of materials out of landfills every year.
1. Recycle your tree
2. Make Firewood
3. DIY Crafts
4. Create habitat
If you've got a lake or pond on your property, consider dumping your tree into it. That old pine or spruce provides a natural and decomposing habitat for fish and will attract algae for them to eat. Some game and fishery departments will offer a drop-off service for trees that they will then use in community lakes and ponds. Just remember to remove all ornaments, hooks, and decorations before dropping it off.
5. Dune Restoration
Throw a chipper party! Beach communities that have been decimated by storms and hurricanes have turned to old Christmas trees to help fight beach erosion and restore sand dunes. Christmas trees and their needles retain sand and vegetation against strong winds and provide cover for birds in the winter.
6. Create mulch
Use pine needles and leafs from your yard waste to create mulch.
Begin composting at home. It's easy. You can find our guide here.
In Escambia County, ECUA has constructed a biosolids/composting facility at our Central Water Reclamation Facility. The ECUA Board approved this project in December, 2014, construction began in April 2015, and the first full quantities of compost were available for sale in March 2016. The Composting Facility processes yard waste, along with the biosolids derived from the water reclamation process into a compost product, which is available to the community. In order to maximize the quality of the composted yard waste, we recommend that customers use brown compostable paper yard waste bags or reusable plastic cans designated for yard waste in place of the traditional plastic lawn and leaf bags. Plastic bags make yard waste incapable of being used as compost or mulch because plastic does not decompose. Thus, the yard waste contaminated with plastic bags could end up in a landfill rather than as a more environmentally-friendly compost. Furthermore, disposing of yard waste in the landfill significantly increases disposal costs of yard waste, which in turn could lead to an increase in rates. Paper yard waste bags are easily found in home improvement centers and large retailers, through online sources and in garden centers and nurseries. Plus, if you ask for paper bags at the grocery store (yes, some local stores still offer this choice!), they’ll serve double duty when you recycle them into yard trash bags! It’s never too early to start, so the next time you find yourself reaching for that plastic bag, remember that now, brown is the new green!
Make sure that you trash invasive species (vines, blackberries, and other harmful plants).