Hallowe-en waste: Pumpkins heading “straight to Britain’s bins”

Up to 18,000 tons to be thrown out by the end of the big day

Hundreds of thousands of pumpkins are to be thrown into Britain’s bins by the end of the Hallowe’en festivities.

Households in the UK, not sure what to do with their pumpkins after the trick-or-treaters are gone, are most likely to put them out with the rubbish, says a leading British waste management company.

According to the Business Waste company, millions are sold every year in the run-up to 31st October, and nearly all of them won’t be eaten.

“The worst thing is that just a week after the controversy of supermarket food waste comes a festival that openly wastes food,” says Business Waste’s Mark Hall.

While hard figures for Hallowe’en pumpkin sales are hard to come by, last year Tesco said they sold two-million by the end of October, a third of the UK market. With the vast majority sold in the week before Hallowe’en, it’s clear that most are destined for the same fate: Their insides scooped out, a face carved on the side and a candle stuck in the middle.

“Unfortunately, most people don’t have a clue what to do with the pumpkin flesh,” said Hall, “and bins up and down the country are bursting with the stuff because many people still don’t compost.

It’s food waste on a grand scale.”

Even at the most conservative estimates, assuming four million pumpkins are sold each year to be hollowed out as Jack-o’-lanterns, Business Waste say up to 18,000 tons of the fruit will be wasted this week alone.

Compared with Tesco’s own figures which revealed 30,000 tons of food waste from their stores in the first six months of 2013, those numbers are shocking in the extreme.

“Every year, people are being told to try out pumpkin recipes,” says Hall, “but the bottom line is that people are either too lazy, or just don’t like the idea.

“Pumpkins are a culinary unknown to most people, and the bin is by far the easiest option. It’s a shame because farmers are growing whole fields of these things just to be wasted.”

With Guy Fawkes Night around the corner, Business Waste warns that it’s another festival that encourages wholesale waste.

“Far be it for us to be party poopers, but we’re asking people to take special care what they throw on their bonfires,” said Mark Hall.

“Ask yourself if you’re about to burn something toxic, or if it can be better off recycled.”