Government Public Works

West Hartford Residents’ Aging Pumpkins Can Become Compost and Bio-Fuel

A dumpster full of 'aged' pumpkins in 2021. This year pumpkins can be dropped off in two West Hartford locations. Courtesy photo

The Town of West Hartford is collecting pumpkins through Nov. 20 at two different locations.

Pumpkin recycling is underway in West Hartford. Courtesy photo

By Ronni Newton

Jack-O-Lanterns have had their night in the spotlight, and while residents may be tempted to toss them into the trash along with the other aging pumpkins that have been munched on by squirrels or other creatures, the Town of West Hartford has some suggestions for more environmentally friendly alternatives.

The Department of Public Works has once again deployed an organics barrels at its Brixton Street facility, and this year also has a barrel at Westmoor Park, to provide a more convenient drop-off location for those who live in the north end of town. The barrels will remain in place through Nov. 20.

“It was so popular last year that we tripled the pounds collected from around 2,400 pounds in 2020 to 6,400 in 2021 at DPW on Brixton Street,” said Recycling Coordinator Katherine Bruns. “At the suggestion of a resident I reached out to Westmoor Park which agreed to host a barrel for collection there as well 119 Flagg Road. Nice to have a spot on the south end and north end of town.”

Pumpkins can be composted in your own backyard as well, but organic material should not ever be placed in recycling bins, nor should it go into the trash.

The pumpkins collected by the town will be sent to Quantum Biopower in Southington where they will be turned into valuable compost and bio-gas. Food waste and organics are dense and heavy, and composting them will cut down on the amount of trash being sent to incinerators, and also cut down on the energy needed to burn the heavy material.

Bruns suggested “carpooling” with some neighbors’ pumpkins for the drop-off as well, to further save energy.

“Billions of pumpkins are grown every year for Halloween – with all the water and energy that entails – and a very small percentage is ever made into food. That is a lot of wasted resources just to go to trash. Besides, it is against the law to put organic material in the trash barrel. So it’s great to at least compost them,” Bruns said. “Even better, let them rot in your backyard.”

While pumpkins are often enjoyed by squirrels – and Bruns said her own was completely consumed, right down to the very last seed, she cautioned, “If dropping off at Westmoor Park PLEASE don’t feed pumpkins to the animals!”

Plastic bags, as well as any other trash or recyclables, should not be included with the pumpkins. While painted pumpkins are okay, all candles must be removed.

The pumpkin recycling locations are:

  • Department of Public Works, 17 Brixton Street, West Hartford
  • Westmoor Park, 119 Flagg Road, West Hartford

If you’re done with your Jack- or Jane-O-Lantern, don’t throw them in the trash. Courtesy photo

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