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Union County’s Pumpkin Recycling Program Returns in November

Residents can recycle their pumpkins for green energy.

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 program is coordinated by Union County and municipal partners. The pumpkins will be sent to an organic waste recycling facility and transformed into green energy.

“The pumpkin recycling program is an easy, convenient way for Union County residents to support the renewable energy industry in our community,” said County Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams. “The program also raises awareness about new opportunities to recycle food waste, instead of disposing it in landfills or incinerators.”

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.

Residents can bring their program to any of three designated recycling locations between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., beginning on Tuesday, November 1.

The program will run every weekday, Monday through Friday except for holidays, until the end of November. The last day to drop off pumpkins will be Monday, November 28.

 The drop-off 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.

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, donating unused shelf items to food banks before their sell-by date expires, and starting a compost pile for vegetable scraps.

For more information about 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, including guidance on composting at home, are available at The Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connection.

For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing 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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