Record number of trees collected in this year’s Parks Mulchfest program

Trees going into a chipping machine at Maria Hernandez Park in Brooklyn. (NYC Parks)

With the conclusion of NYC Parks’ Mulchfest, which collects peoples’ Christmas trees for recycling, Parks announced it had received a record number of trees this year, smashing its previous record by a 60 percent margin.

Mulchfest 2020 collected 48,230 trees in the five boroughs, passing the previous record of 30,226 trees gathered in 2014. Last year, just over 28,000 trees were collected, with recent years mostly seeing similar collection numbers, according to Parks data. The trees are turned into mulch, which is used to help gardening and soil fertility.

This year’s Mulchfest was from Dec. 26 through Jan. 11. There were 67 drop-off sites, including 32 chipping sites, throughout the five boroughs, at parks and GreenThumb gardens.

“It gives me great pleasure to announce that our city’s residents have gone above and beyond as urban stewards this year, setting a new recycling record at Mulchfest 2020,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver in a statement. “I would like to thank our partners at the Department of Sanitation, as well as every single individual who participated in this event, for doing their part to make our city even more sustainable. Here’s to 50,000 trees at Mulchfest 2021!”

Tree collection at Conference House Park in Staten Island. (NYC Parks)

Parks cited several factors for the record-breaking year. The changed chipping schedule allowed for people to bring in trees on two consecutive Saturdays, instead of during one weekend like in past years. Also, the weather was unseasonably warm, Parks noted, and the program had an earlier start date this season. There were also more tree vendors who dropped off trees, with vendors contributing 9,000 trees this year instead of the typical 3,000 annually.

A chipping machine at Manhattan’s Washington Square Park during Mulchfest 2020. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

The newly-created mulch will be distributed this spring, according to Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, to parks and community gardens that request them.

When the data for Mulchfest tree contributions were broken down by borough, Manhattan collected the most, with 21,486 trees, according to Parks numbers. The Manhattan number includes trees dropped off by vendors. In Brooklyn, 15,867 trees were collected this year; Queens collected 4,912 trees; the Bronx received 4,795 trees; and 1,170 trees were collected in Staten Island.

Gabe Herman