Stop Loading Landfills With a Scary Amount of Halloween Waste

Target: Michael S. Regan, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Goal: Reduce the number of pumpkins and candy wrappers that end up in local landfills with innovative recycling ideas.

With Halloween upon us, millions of children (and adults) will have already carved up their pumpkins and filled their bags and pails with sweet treats to munch on through the upcoming week. In the past, old pumpkins and wrappers would end up in home trashcans to be carted away and thrown into landfills. Fortunately, we now have a more globally minded approach to disposal of this holiday waste.

Real pumpkins are one Halloween decoration that can have a fruitful afterlife. For those who enjoy compost, such gourds can be cut up with seeds removed and mixed in for a healthy dose of moisture and nitrogen. Community gardens also may accept these, even if they have gotten a little soft, to contribute to sprawling plant beds. Farms would be happy to take pumpkins for conversion to animal feed, for they are high in protein animals need to get big, strong, and healthy.

Candy wrappers have always been quick to get tossed in the trash, but modern technology has started paving the way for responsible disposal instead of being a nightmare for traditional recycling programs. Six hundred million pounds of candy gets consumed on average during the Halloween season which produces a squeamish amount of trash. Confectionaries have caught on and are working towards more earth-friendly wrappers. They, along with other companies, offer wrapper collection bags to ship candy waste back to be melted down into dog waste bags. This option is not well known, however, and not easily accessible for those willing to participate.

Urge Administrator Regan to develop programs for municipalities to encourage and facilitate environmentally conscious means of recycling pumpkins and candy wrappers.


Dear Administrator Regan,

Halloween is a time of year enjoyed by millions of children and adults across the country. Pumpkins have become a seasonable staple in the U.S. where they, along with other decorations, serve as a harbinger of everyone’s favorite item: candy. Both these items produce an unfortunate amount of waste which does have potential to be reused in ways many do not consider or even know about.

It is up to the EPA as the nation’s governing environmental advocate to address serious sources of waste and ways to improve their disposal, and Halloween is a great opportunity. Instead of pumpkins ending up in the trash, they have a number of uses outside of the landfill. Television ads among other mediums are a great and fun way to ensure these gourds end up somewhere more productive. With your efforts, localities big and small can feel better equipped to help residents dispose of pumpkins responsibly while saving literal tons of work for waste management companies.

Candy wrappers also are a huge problem as they are not accepted by local recycling programs. Good news comes from select candy makers and other companies who offer to give wrappers a second life. Difficulty lies in awareness of these services with most of the legwork put on the consumer to get them to proper recycling facilities. Making these programs more accessible or requiring it by candy manufacturers is a step in the right direction. Of course enabling local governments to handle this will help tailor wrapper recycling to each community’s needs.

We urge you to address a longstanding problem and develop viable options to help old pumpkins and candy wrappers be recycled effectively after Halloween.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Petey21

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