Now that Christmas is over the question that begs to be asked is where do the six million Christmas trees purchased in the UK end up? Some trees are recycled, but others end up in landfills and that creates a large environmental issue. Most Christmas trees are Nordmann firs, a type of ‘non-drop’ fir that takes about ten years to grow to the full size of six feet. Unfortunately, most end up flytipped and the Warp Government waste agency estimates that every year about 160,000 tonnes of trees are simply tossed even though many local councils do have recycling programmes.
The Local Government Association calculates that every tree that is tossed into a landfill costs the local authority a little over £2 pounds in landfill taxes and fees. The figure will increase in April because the cost per tonne of waste is set to increase by £8.
Chair of the LGA housing and environment board, Councillor Mike Jones, explained that Christmas can be an expensive time for everyone but councils can help to reduce the costs of the season some by making sure that they look at how to recycle more and transport less to landfills. Chipping trees is one way to help reduce landfill costs and the chips that are left over from the trees can actually be put to good use.
In areas that chip trees the chippings are taken to a depot and allowed to rot so that they can be used as mulch in the springtime. This mulch is also excellent at keeping weeds away from garden beds. Some chippings are used to form paths in the woodlands and some chips are used as soil conditioners. Some councils even sell the chips of soil conditioner to get more money that can be used in the community while others offer it to citizens for free.