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Reader question: How do I dispose of my Christmas tree in Zurich?

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Reader question: How do I dispose of my Christmas tree in Zurich?
A Christmas tree with decorations seen close up. Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf on Unsplash

Christmas is over for another year. How do Zurich residents properly dispose of their Christmas trees?


The life of a Christmas tree is charmed but fleeting. 

One day you’re the centrepiece of the house, glistening with tinsel and fairy lights, the next you’re out on the kerb. 

But for anyone who hasn’t yet disposed of their Christmas tree, it’s important to remember that Switzerland is Switzerland - and when it comes to rubbish collection, there are rules. 


When should I dispose of my Christmas tree in Switzerland?

When and how you dispose of your Christmas tree is generally up to you, if you want it to be collected by Zurich authorities, then you need to do it in January. 

Many people clear out their tree on January 6th, epiphany. 

READ MORE: 20 telltale signs you have gone native in Switzerland

Some Catholic households however dispose of their trees on February 2nd, Mary Candelmas. 

Those who dispose of their trees in February however will need to do so themselves, with the council only doing so in January. 

How do I ensure my Christmas tree is collected?

ERZ Disposal and Recycling Zurich will collect and dispose of your tree free of charge. 

In order to ensure it gets collected, there are a few rules to follow. 

You need to dispose of it on the day of collection of household waste before 7am. 

You need to remove all tinsel or other decorations from the tree, compact it to 1.5 metres and put it next to the Zuri sack container. 


Can I just put it with my compost?

The tree must not be disposed of in the organic waste/compost. 

According to Zurich City Council, this is because Christmas trees do not decompose properly. 

“A Christmas tree is usually chemically treated and has candle scraps or tinsel. These do not decompose in the fermentation process and would end up in the environment via compost utilisation in agriculture.”

READ MORE: ‘I faced prison for plastic in wrong recycling bag’

Instead, Christmas trees are collected and burnt to be turned into energy at the Hagenholz waste-to-energy plant. 

The energy of the burnt trees is then fed into the electricity network, returning as light and heat to Zurich homes. 

More information about the collection program is available here. 

Can I take my Christmas tree to the zoo?

This question is not as odd as it sounds - but the answer is still no. 

Christmas tree retailers often give unsold trees to the Zurich Zoo, Zurich Wilderness Park and the Langenberg Zoo. 

They are either eaten by elephants, llamas, camels, moose and alpacas, or used for playing and sniffing for tigers and lions. 

However, Zoos do not accept private tree donations. 

A spokesperson for Zurich Zoo told Switzerland’s NZZ newspaper that they already have enough from tree retailers and that trees from private homes often have decoration, chemicals and wax which the animals can’t eat. 


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