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Ready to sing “Auld Lang Syne” to your live Christmas tree? Here’s how to recycle it in Chicago or the suburbs:

In Chicago

The city’s Christmas tree recycling program was organized by the Department of Streets and Sanitation and the Chicago Park District in 1990. Since then, the program has turned more than 285,000 trees into mulch. More than 17,400 trees were recycled in 2019.

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Residents can drop off real trees at one of 25 locations throughout the city from Jan. 9-23, 2021. For more information, call 311 or visit http://recyclebycity.com/chicago. No wreaths or garland is accepted at these locations.

Six locations — Lincoln Park, Margate Park, Mount Greenwood Park, North Park Village, Warren Park and the Forestry site — will have free mulch available for pickup on a limited basis beginning Jan. 16, 2020.

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All trees must:

  • Be naked. No trees with ornaments, tinsel, lights or flocking will be accepted. No wreaths or garlands accepted.
  • Be bagless. Plastic bags used for transport must be removed before placing trees in the stalls.
Ray Novickas, right, and Juan Cruz, both with Chicago Streets and Sanitation, collect Christmas trees on North Cannon Drive in Chicago on Jan. 8, 2018.
Ray Novickas, right, and Juan Cruz, both with Chicago Streets and Sanitation, collect Christmas trees on North Cannon Drive in Chicago on Jan. 8, 2018. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

In the suburbs

Pickup of trees in the suburbs varies, but most occur on refuse collection days. Check your municipality for instructions, but most require trees be left curbside or on a parkway with tinsel, decorations and lights removed. Don’t place trees in any sort of plastic bag.

A Christmas tree awaits pick-up on Courtland Avenue in Park Ridge on Jan. 5, 2019.
A Christmas tree awaits pick-up on Courtland Avenue in Park Ridge on Jan. 5, 2019. (Jennifer Johnson/Pioneer Press)

Recycling services

After removing the lights, decorations, tinsel and ornaments from your tree, you might not have the time, energy or a vehicle to take it to a recycling site. Leave it to the pros. These local companies will pick up your tree — curbside or from inside your home — for a fee:

  • Healthy Soil Compost: Proceeds benefit Zero Waste Chicago, a local nonprofit. (Cost: $35-45)
  • City Tree Delivery: Schedule a date and a crew will haul your tree away to get mulched. Service includes Chicago and the suburbs. (Cost: $44.90-97.90)
  • TreeSanta: This service claims to plant new trees for each removed. (Cost: $34.95)
  • Do The Right Thing! Recycling: This not-for-profit organization will pick up your tree and wreath — but only if you remove the wire that holds it together. (Cost: $20-25)

Sources: City of Chicago, the municipalities

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