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EXPLAINED: How to dispose of your Christmas tree in Germany

The Local Germany
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EXPLAINED: How to dispose of your Christmas tree in Germany
The annual Christmas tree stands in front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

Once you can't hear the bells jingling, and the beautiful Christmas tree in your living room becomes a dry, dead hazard, it's time to dispose of it correctly. Here's how to do it in Germany.

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Christmas trees can have a relatively short "life" span in Germany. Traditionally, they are decorated just on Christmas Eve (though this has been changing, and many families now decorate their trees well in advance) and are often disposed of by January 6th, the Feast of Epiphany, which celebrates the end of the Christmas season.

If you bought a real Christmas tree, it's now time to start thinking about how to dispose of it properly. 

Collection days

Many cities in Germany have designated days for you to simply leave your tree out to be collected - often just on the sidewalk. Depending on the city though, these dates might vary depending on your district.

In Berlin, for example, each district has at least two collection dates, with one in the second week of January and one in the third. Larger districts even have different days depending on neighbourhood.

After collection, these trees are shredded using special machines and then used in biomass power plants to generate energy. In Berlin alone, city services collect 350,000 trees a year - and the energy produced from them can heat around 500 homes for a full year.

Cities that organise collection on the street include Berlin, Potsdam, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, and Frankfurt, among others. 

To find out if municipal workers will collect the trees disposed of on sidewalks where you live; you can search for Weihnachtsbaumabholung + the name of your village, town, or city.

In all cases, people must remove all decorations (tinsel, candles, etc) beforehand. It's typically better to leave your tree out the night before, or be sure that if you're up early on the day, to have your tree out by 6:00 am at the latest.

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Collection points

Not every town or city will necessarily have dedicated pick-up. But many, if not most, will have designated drop-off points where you can leave your Christmas tree. This is especially likely to be the case the smaller your city, town, or village is.

To find out where your community's collection point might be, google Weihnachtsbaumsammelstelle, Weihnachtsbaumabgabestelle or Weihnachtsbaumablagestelle + the name of your town to check if there are collection points and where.

Collection points are available around Munich, Leipzig, Cologne, Dresden, Stuttgart, and many more.

Again, make sure you've removed all tinsel, decorations, and the like before dropping your tree off.

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Other disposal 'methods'

For those who have gardens at home, the Christmas tree branches can be used to cover perennial plants and sprouting bulbs from frost. They can also be used as household compost, but the pieces should be 15 cm long at home, and only about as thick as a finger.

One place authorities ask you not to leave your tree is in a public park.

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