Don't toss that Christmas tree just yet.

For city residents who don't mind keeping their trees until Jan. 5, the Philadelphia Streets Department has a recycling program to help prevent those Douglas firs and Virginia pines from ending up in a landfill.

From Jan. 5 to 17, city residents can drop off their trees (free of decorations) at one of four sanitation convenience centers - 3033 S. 63d St. in Southwest Philadelphia; Domino Lane and Umbria Street in Upper Roxborough; State Road and Ashburner Street in Holmesburg; and 2601 W. Glenwood Ave. in North Philadelphia. The centers will be open Monday through Saturday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

More drop-off locations will be available throughout the city on two Saturdays in the new year, Jan. 10 and 17. For a list of all 23 locations, visit

The city will not offer curbside pickup of trees for its recycling program. Trees left on the curb will be picked up as trash and sent to a landfill.

Businesses must make their own arrangements for discarding their trees. The drop-off locations are for city residents only, and are free.

Last year, the Streets Department collected about 1,150 Christmas trees, which amounted to 34,500 pounds of tree debris to be used for composting and mulch for city parks and landscapes.

Other municipalities across the region are recycling trees, too. West Chester has curbside pickup of Christmas trees the first two weeks of January. Residents there should put trees on the curb like other yard waste. A city truck will take the trees to be composted and turned to mulch.

In South Jersey, Cherry Hill residents have two options: placing the tree at the curb on trash day so the township's yard-waste truck can take it to recycle, or dropping the tree off in a fenced-off area at the Department of Public Works. Trees should be bare - no lights or ornaments - and not wrapped in bags, said Bridget Palmer, spokeswoman for Cherry Hill Township.

Old, nonfunctional Christmas lights can be dropped at the electronic waste shed at the front of the Public Works yard to be recycled, Palmer said.

Anyone with questions can call Cherry Hill Public Works at 856-424-4422, or visit the PWD website at

The Philadelphia Streets Department also warns against burning Christmas trees in a fireplace. The sap "creates foul odors and can coat the chimney with creosote, which can cause a fire," the department's website says.

Used wrapping paper, greeting cards, gift tags, and gift boxes are also fine candidates for recycling, Streets Commissioner David Perri said in a news release.

"This holiday season, we should remember to give the gift of caring for our environment," Perri said. "Doing green activities such as recycling holiday materials protects our planet as we use our natural resources wisely."

Other items that Perri suggested residents toss in their recycling bins include retail fliers and catalogs, and 2014 telephone books and calendars.

215-854-5520 @InqCVargas