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Bin, forest? How to dispose of your Christmas tree legally in France

Be aware that there can be tough fines for fly-tipping and even worse for dumping it in a forest

If you have goats or sheep, let them eat your old tree (as long as it has no glitter on it) - pine bark is a natural vermifuge Pic: Alexanderstock23 / Shutterstock

Old Christmas trees need to be disposed of correctly in France or they can lead to stiff fines. We look at the right way to do this.

People in France buy 5.9 million natural Christmas trees each year, according to the French Christmas tree association (AFSNN). Many of them will end up unceremoniously dumped beside the grey waste bins or in forests.

However, be warned that such careless disposal can result in a fine for fly-tipping, which starts at €35, rising to €150 for more serious cases.

If the fine is not paid in 35 days, it increases, first to €375, and up to a maximum of €750.

People who dump their old trees in a forest can face an even steeper fine of up to €1,500.

“Contrary to the widely-held belief, the accumulation of vegetable waste, in particular that of Christmas trees, can be toxic for forest soil,” says the Office National des Forets (ONF). 

“This type of waste actually helps the proliferation of exotic, invasive plants, such as Japanese knotweed.”

What is the right way to dispose of a Christmas tree in France?

Take it to your local déchetterie (tip): there should be a dedicated green waste container to put it in.

Leave it at a collection point: Many towns and cities organise collection points, sometimes on the doorstep. Last year, Paris Métropole collected 114,247 trees at its 173 collection points.

Here are the collection solutions for larger towns:

Other mairies, including those in small villages, also offer a collection service. Contact your mairie to see what solutions it can provide.

In Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the ONF has been working with the region since 2016 to collect old Christmas trees, which it reuses as a way to stop sand dunes from drifting and reduce erosion.

Take it back to the shop: Large garden centres in particular often provide a disposal service.

Recycle it at home: If you have a wood stove, leave the wood to dry and then burn it.

Feed it to animals: If you have goats or sheep, let them eat it (as long as it has no glitter on it) - pine bark is a natural vermifuge .

Put it in a wood chipper and shredder: You can use the vegetable waste to protect your plants from frost or put it a compost.

Read more:

Christmas in France is so much better without Boxing Day 

Seven questions about new obligatory composting law in France

SING ALONG: French Christmas classic carols

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