Public Info

Union County’s Pumpkin Recycling Program returns in November

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

The Union County Board of County Commissioners, in coordination with the Union County Bureau of Recycling and Planning, Union County residents can put their Jack o’ Lanterns to good use after Halloween by participating in the Pumpkin Recycling Program, which returns this November after being a big hit for the last few years.

“Union County’s Pumpkin Recycling Program is back and bigger than ever in 2023! We are happy to bring this eco-friendly initiative to our residents, expanding to six convenient drop-off locations throughout the county,” said Commissioner Chairman Sergio Granados. “By recycling your pumpkins, you are not only promoting a greener environment but also contributing to a brighter, more sustainable future by reducing food waste and transforming it into clean, green energy.”

The pumpkins will be collected by municipal departments of public works and brought to an organic waste recycler in Elizabeth, where they will be transformed into green energy.  This program will be coordinated by the Union County Bureau of Recycling and Planning.

The program has grown in 2023.  There will now be six municipal locations available for residents to drop off their pumpkins off at in 2023, versus the three. Residents from any municipality in Union County can use any of these locations, regardless of their home town.

The program runs from Wednesday, November 1 through Monday, November 27, and each location is open from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm. The locations are:

  • 101 Berkeley Avenue in Berkeley Heights
    • Berkeley Heights Department of Public Works
    • Next to the new Municipal Complex
  • 523 Trenton Avenue in Elizabeth
    • Elizabeth Municipal Recycling Yard
  • 1300 Lamberts Mill Road in Westfield
    • Westfield Conservation Center
  • 2 Donaldson Place in Linden
    • Municipal recycling yard
  • 401 Sheridan Avenue in Kenilworth
    • Kenilworth Public Works complex
  • 95 Rock Avenue in Plainfield
    • Plainfield Transfer Station

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 the CORe facility in Elizabeth, which is 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. Each year, in the United States, 119 billion pounds of food is wasted, which equates to 130 billion meals and more than $408 billion in food thrown away each year.  Shockingly, nearly 40% of all food in America is wasted. 

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 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,