Pumpkin Recycling: Orange Globes, Helping Planet Earth.



Tyler Dyer, News Editor

The West Hartford Department of Public Works collects Halloween pumpkins for the fifth year to be turned into energy and compost by Quantum Biopower. This is part of an effort to reduce food waste and promote composting. “Every year about a billion pumpkins are produced in the states and just thrown away,” Katherine Bruns, West Hartford’s recycling coordinator, said. There are many ways to reduce food waste by recycling pumpkins. Other methods include:

  • making a bird feeder and sharing the plain seeds with birds and other small wildlife,
  • planting the seeds of future pumpkins,
  • donating pumpkins to a local zoo, or
  • roasting the seeds.

A container is currently in place at the West Hartford Department of Public Works facility at 17 Brixton St. The community can drop off their “aging” pumpkins through November 12. The bin is located outside the Department of Public Works at 17 Brixton St. and aims to keep pumpkins and gourds out of landfills. Carved Jack-O-Lanterns, including those that have been painted, can be dropped in the container rather than discarded through the trash. The bin will be outside of the Department of Public Works Until November 12 and asks that tealight candles and other non-organic materials be removed before pumpkins are dropped off. Plastic bags, trash, or recycling should not be placed in the dedicated pumpkin container.

Only a few hundred pumpkins were dropped in the bin the first year of the program, but people filled up the bin last year with more than a ton of pumpkin waste. John Phillips, director of public works, said that the composting program costs half as much as trash disposal. “This is a great opportunity for West Hartford residents to reduce trash volume and weight by composting your pumpkins,” the town said in an announcement.

Food that decomposes in landfills as food waste under heaps of trash receives little to no oxygen. “When there’s no oxygen it’s buried in a landfill, it creates methane gas,” Phillips said. Methane is released into the atmosphere as a byproduct and is more detrimental than CO2. “We know as far as climate change those that’s one of the leading causes of climate change. So we want to do our part to control that a little bit and reduce those issues.” From the bin, the organic waste goes to Quantum Biopower in Southington, where it has turned into clean energy. People tend to become more motivated and excited to participate in actions to help the planet. “It’s a win-win for everybody,” Phillips said. “We just encourage residents to be aware of what they’re throwing away and find those avenues where materials should be going and not just rely on the regular trash.”