There are ways to dispose of Christmas trees that are sustainable and will prevent them from going to landfills. Once thrown away, a Christmas tree releases 16 kg of greenhouse gases as it decomposes, producing methane that is 25 times more warming than carbon dioxide.
A new study led by the University of Sheffield and the University of Valladolid has found that pine needles from discarded Christmas trees could be turned into renewable fuels and other products which would save emissions.
Pine needles could essentially be processed with the aid of heat and solvents, breaking them down into a bio-oil that could be used in the production of sweeteners, pain, adhesives and vinegar. Trees can also be used as biomass to be converted to biochar.
Another study also shows pine needles could be used to produce formic acid. The acid finds utilization in hydrogen fuel cells, food preservatives and other industrial applications.
If pine needles from old Christmas trees are collected and processed for the making of other products, they could replace less sustainable industrial chemicals. According to the research, that, for example, would lead to a decrease in the UK’s carbon footprint, saving up to 100,000 tons of greenhouse gases yearly and reduce the amount of biomass waste ending up in landfills.