Christmas trees are stacked into a pile to be converted into mulch. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

With the holidays in the rearview mirror, San Antonio residents have options for getting rid of their organic Christmas trees – and turning them into mulch.

Texas Disposal Systems (TDS) is offering residents the opportunity to recycle their real Christmas trees and other seasonal decorations until Jan. 31. The City of San Antonio is offering a similar arrangement.

For over a decade, the independently owned resource management company TDS has repurposed real Christmas trees from Texas homes.

The company is accepting clean, unflocked Christmas trees and other ornament-free organic decorations such as holly and pumpkins for recycling.

After drop-off, these items will be placed into TDS’ large grinder to create nutrient-rich mulch and compost that will be available for purchase at Garden-Ville stores in Central Texas.

The service is free of charge until Jan. 31 as long as the trees are cleaned and free of flocking, lights, ornaments, and other inorganic materials. TDS will assess $45 for trees and organic decorations that are not cleared of contaminants when dropped off.

People can drop off their seasonal organic materials at the Garden-Ville at 7561 E. Evans Road during their operating hours, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. The Garden-Ville at 1280 FM 1516 in Converse, which is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday and closed on the weekends, also is accepting trees.

Per Texas law, materials must be tied and secured when transporting the loads to tree collection sites.

“[This service is] really important for TDS because we really just want to continue to teach people how to do the right thing with the products that are in their home and really to be able to be a sustainable partner for the environment,” said Wendy Bradley, community relations manager for TDS.

According to the Associated Press, the fresh-cut tree industry saw an increased interest in real trees as a result of families staying during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bradley estimates that Texas Disposal Systems will receive between 400 and 500 trees for recycling from this recent holiday season.

The San Antonio Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD) offers six locations for San Antonio residents to dispose of their Christmas trees.

Through Jan. 16, real Christmas trees can be dropped off at the Culebra Road Drop-Off Center, Frio City Road Drop-Off Center, and Rigsby Road Drop-off Center 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

Through Jan. 31, residents can drop off their trees at Bitters Brush Drop-Off Center off Wurzbach Parkway, Nelson Gardens Drop-Off Center on Nelson Road, and Southside Brush and Bulky Waste Collection Center on Castroville Road from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

These trees also should be rid of any contaminant or decoration, clear of bags, and cut in half if they are over 6 feet tall.

Residents can dispose of their Christmas tree by placing it in their green organic cart for regular collection dates as long as it is cleaned and trimmed to completely fit in the cart with the lid closed.

SWMD will have tree mulch available at the Bitters location approximately a week or two after the above-mentioned dates while supplies last.

Samantha Ruvalcaba, who grew up in San Antonio, is a Shiner intern and junior at St. Mary's University studying international and global studies with a minor in communications.