Use DOS Recycling Program for Christmas Trees and Wreaths

Again this year, the city’s Department of Sanitation (DOS) has a recycling program for Christmas trees and wreaths. It should make getting rid of trees and wreaths after the holiday much easier for you. Recycling trees and wreaths doesn’t just help the environment. It also helps eliminate the fire hazard posed by storing dried-out trees and wreaths in your building overnight or longer. Here’s how the program works.

The trees and wreaths may simply be put at curbside from Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, through Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. Weather permitting, DOS will collect and compost the Christmas trees left at the curb. The trees are chipped, mixed with leaves, and recycled into rich compost for NYC’s parks, institutions, and community gardens.

Trees and Wreaths Collected Jan. 4–15

Tenants’ undecorated trees and wreaths may be put out at curbside for collection in all boroughs on any day beginning Jan. 4 and running through Jan. 15, 2016. You don’t need to tie them up before placing them at the curb. DOS will collect the trees and wreaths on an as-needed basis.

However, you must follow three recycling rules. Trees that still have the following items attached will be collected as garbage.

  • Remove all wires from wreaths.
  • Remove all decorations from trees and wreaths.
  • Don’t place trees or wreaths in bags or Dumpsters. Owners with Dumpsters should place trees and wreaths at the curb.

For fake trees that are mostly metal or rigid plastic, DOS asks that you put them out next to your recycling container on regular recycling days after having tenants remove ornaments from them. Fake trees that are not mostly metal or rigid plastic can be discarded with regular trash.

Regular Garbage Classification

DOS won’t issue violations for trees and wreaths left at curbside during the recycling period. But as of Jan. 16, 2016, trees and wreaths become regular garbage items. They can be put out for collection only after 8 p.m. the night before the DOS regular garbage collection day.

Tell Tenants About Recycling

Notify tenants about the recycling requirements and include specific instructions for them about how to recycle their trees. Otherwise, after the holidays, you’re apt to find trees jammed into trash cans and compactor chutes. Also, remind tenants to remove all decorations, including tinsel. Some owners may choose to have tenants bring the trees to a designated area—such as a room in the basement or out to the curb. Other buildings provide a tree-removal service to tenants as a way to keep tenants from dragging trees along hallways and littering public areas with pine needles.