Pumpkin Recycling Program in West Hartford Aims To Cut Down Pollution

Pumpkins in a landfill emit methane which harms the environment

With their jolly grins, or faces frozen in fear, pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns are porch centerpieces. Yet after Halloween, disposing of those pumpkins correctly can help protect the environment.

“Every year about a billion pumpkins are produced in the states and just thrown away,” Katherine Bruns, West Hartford's recycling coordinator, said.

In West Hartford, a bin represents an effort to prevent harmful pollution.

“Just bring your pumpkins here! This is our fifth year that we're going to have a pumpkin disposal program,” John Phillips, director of public works, said.

The bin is located outside the Department of Public Works at 17 Brixton St., and aims to keep pumpkins and gourds out of landfills.

“When there's no oxygen it’s buried in a landfill, it creates methane gas,” Phillips said. “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.”

 The first year of the program, this bin only got a few hundred pumpkins, but last year people dropped off more than a ton of pumpkin waste.

 “1.3 tons last year, just from West Hartford residents alone. So we hope with this campaign and a more social media presence and advertising it we hope to exceed that number,” Phillips said.

He adds that the composting program costs half as much as disposing of trash.

From the bin, the organic waste goes to Quantum Biopower in Southington, where it’s turned into clean energy.

“If we put it in things like this, and it gets composted, it gets turned into biofuel,” Bruns said. “And people are excited about doing things for their planet, they want actionable things they can do.”

Orange globes, helping planet Earth.  

“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.”

The bin will be outside of the Department of Public Works Until November 12. The department asks that tealight candles and other non-organic materials be removed before pumpkins are dropped off.

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