Press Release

For Immediate Release: October 29, 2021

Union County’s Pumpkin Recycling Program Returns in November

Residents can bring any pumpkin to any designated location for conversion to green energy.

Union County, NJ – Union County residents can put their Jack o’ Lanterns to good use after Halloween by participating in Union County’s Pumpkin Recycling Program, which returns this November after being a smash hit last year.

The pumpkins will be collected by the County of Union along with other local governments and brought to an organic waste recycler in Elizabeth, where they will be transformed into green energy.

“The Pumpkin Recycling Program is an easy, convenient way for Union County residents to support the renewable energy industry, which creates new jobs and helps improve the health and well-being of our communities,” said County Commission Chairman Alexander Mirabella. “We hope the #SmashItDontTrashIt pumpkin recycling campaign boosts public awareness about how we can keep food waste from going to waste.”

Three locations will be available for residents to drop off their pumpkins. Residents from any municipality in Union County can use any of these locations, regardless of their home town.

The program runs on weekdays only from Monday, November 1 through Friday, November 12, and each location is open from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm. The locations are:

  • 101 Berkeley Avenue in Berkeley Heights (the Berkeley Heights Department of Public Works, next to the new Municipal Complex)
  • 523 Trenton Avenue in Elizabeth (the Elizabeth Municipal Recycling Yard)
  • 1300 Lamberts Mill Road in Westfield (the Westfield Conservation Center)

Only pumpkins will be accepted at these locations; other food waste is not accepted. Candles and decorations must be removed.

Residents are advised to wear masks and observe social distance when dropping off their pumpkins.

The Pumpkin Recycling Program will send pumpkins to a processing facility in Elizabeth operated by the firm Waste Management. The company’s proprietary recycling system converts food waste into organic slurry, which is used to increase the output of biogas and other renewable products at municipal wastewater treatment plants.

Food waste is a global problem that contributes to excess greenhouse gas emissions while burdening local governments with waste disposal costs. In the U.S. alone, more than 52 million tons of food is displaced in the U.S. each year according to some estimates.

Traditionally, food waste is sent to landfills or burned in waste-to-energy facilities. New organic recycling systems provide a more sustainable way to manage food waste.

Union County residents can also help reduce food waste by using up leftovers and donating unused shelf items before their sell-by date expires.

For more information, upcoming dates and directions to all Union County recycling programs and locations, visit the Bureau of Recycling and Planning website at ucnj.org/recycle or call the Union County Recycling Hotline at 908-654-9889.

To receive schedule alerts, and to stay up to date with both countywide and Union local recycling programs in Union County, download the free Recycle Coach mobile app.

Quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities are available at The Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connection.

For more information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.

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For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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