A new study from the American Christmas Tree Association looks at the environmental impact of artificial trees versus real trees. Spokesperson Patrick Harbison says the study shows that artificial trees have a more favorable effect on the environment if reused for at least five years. Listen to his iHeartRadio interview below.
The study takes into account multiple aspects of the procurement of both types of trees based on the same size comparisons of 6.5 feet. Artificial trees were looked at for factors such as manufacturing and overseas transportation. Planting, fertilizing and watering were taken into account for real trees, which have an approximate field cultivation period of 7-8 years. The study evaluated various end of life options including landfilling, composting and incineration at the end of their usage. When comparing the life cycles of the two trees on an annual basis, meaning that each type of tree is used and disposed of within one year, the real tree was found to have a more favorable environmental impact. However, the study notes that if an artificial tree is reused over the course of approximately five years, the artificial tree has a more favorable environmental impact. In either instance there’s the environmentally significant issue of “tree miles” – essentially how many miles the tree traveled to get to a consumer – which includes transporting both types of tree from factory or field to the point of sale and the consumer’s personal travel to purchase the tree.
To view an animated video explaining the LCA study findings, click here.