The terrifying truth about food waste at Halloween

With an estimated 18,000 tonnes of perfectly edible pumpkins thrown away in the UK every year, Philip Simpson, commercial director at ReFood, urges households to think hard about the real Halloween horror story.

High in fibre, calcium and magnesium, pumpkins are a true superfood. Their seeds, when toasted, are rich in potassium and protein. Just 80g counts as one of your five-a-day, while high concentrations of vitamins A and C improve your eyesight and protect the skin from sunburn.

But while more than just a temporary candle holder, insight from food charity Hubbub suggests that Brits will carve an estimated 24 million pumpkins in the run-up to Halloween. More worryingly still, an estimated 12.8 million will be thrown away uneaten – enough to make a bowl of soup for everyone in Britain.

While the orange gourd isn’t a traditional dinner table staple in the UK, it’s up to all of us to take responsibility for the impact of our Halloween celebrations. After all, pumpkins left to rot in landfill create greenhouse gases considered 21 times more damaging to the environment than CO2.

We’re therefore urging the general public to think twice about leaving perfectly good food to rot on their doorstep. Carve your dastardly design, display it and then continue your celebrations by making or baking something special.

From pies and pasties to soups, stews, risottos and cakes, there’s a whole host of free resources available online to help make the most of your leftovers. Love Food Hate Waste has created an extensive collection of recipes, while BBC Good Food has something for all the family to enjoy.

At ReFood, we see food waste as the real Halloween horror story. When you consider the sheer number of people suffering from food poverty, as well as the significant environmental consequences caused by improper disposal, it’s clear that something must be done.

Eating what we can and reducing what we waste should be our national priority. For any surplus, we should redistribute it to those in need. For inedible waste or out-of-date produce, we should prioritise anaerobic digestion (AD) to harness the value from such an important resource.

With three state-of-the-art AD facilities across the UK, ReFood turns more than 400,000 tonnes of food waste into renewable energy every year. Our ambition is to see zero food waste to landfill right across the UK, including pumpkins at Halloween.

Our message is therefore clear – when you’re carving your pumpkin this Halloween, think twice about unnecessary food waste. Why not try a new recipe? Why not save the seeds? If you have a food waste caddy, use it! Most importantly, don’t throw your pumpkin into landfill – it’s a terrifying waste.

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