29 Jan Christmas Trees – Real or Faux?
If consumers think using artificial Christmas trees contributes to a greener planet, then they might be mistaken big time! With up to 8m real trees being purchased this Christmas, the idea of saving one from the axe might be stimulating the move to fake ones believing that they are more ecologically friendly.
However, the environmentalists disagree. Focus on the core producer of artificial trees – plastic.
The carbon footprint of a 6.5ft artificial tree equals 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions – which is more than 10 times that of a burnt real tree and more than twice that of a dead real tree. Services are now being offered by local authorities to collect real trees which are then shredded and used in gardens and parks.
According to Kazer, a recycled tree can have little to no emission. But a 6.5ft tall real tree that ends up in landfill, could result in 16kg of carbon dioxide. Because of methane gas production that is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2.
Friends of the Earth advise to prefer a locally produced real tree, or at least the one grown in UK to avoid emissions from transporting and importing.
Locally grown real trees are the best option if you can get one.
Says Mike Childs, head of research at Friends of the Earth.
Compared to the past, there are numerous opportunities now to buy a local tree. “At any one time in the UK there are about 100m trees growing with all the benefits that trees give to the environment. These trees would not be growing if it weren’t for the Christmas tree market,” says Oliver Kenny of Yorkshire Christmas Trees, who plants more trees than the number that is cut down each year.
Real Christmas trees can become helpful by reducing the emissions from transporting trees, and recycling them by chipping, – an attempt to remove carbon from the atmosphere considerably.
Growing them in the UK reduces the carbon footprint of importation and you also get a fresher tree because it can be cut three weeks later.
Most fake trees are made of PVC – a plastic which is notorious for not being easily recycled, and negatively effecting the environment when disposed.
The advice is to keep using an artificial tree if already bought, but if the need for replacement comes up, go for a second hand one to reduce the carbon content.