From Pumpkin Patches to Sustainability: Managing Organic Waste During the Fall Season

Fall is here; a time of crisp air, colorful foliage, and, of course, pumpkin-spiced everything. For retailers, it’s a season of opportunity, particularly when it comes to seasonal produce like pumpkins, squash, apples, and corn. But with this cornucopia comes a less celebrated byproduct: organic waste.

While our customers are enjoying their pumpkin lattes and apple pies, it’s easy to overlook the substantial amount of organic waste that accumulates behind the scenes. Pumpkin patches and grocery stores, in particular, face the challenge of managing leftover pumpkins and other fall produce, which often go unsold and unused.

Inefficient waste management during holiday seasons can not only lead to environmental issues but also financial inefficiencies. And with consumer awareness of sustainability on the rise, eco-friendly decisions are a critical aspect of brand perception. Let’s look at what your organization can do to combat the waste accumulated by fall produce.

The Scale of the Problem

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that food waste makes up between 30-40% of the food supply, with seasonal peaks that often coincide with holidays and widely celebrated events. But what about the fall harvest? Around 2.1 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced in the U.S. each year, much of which is used for decorative purposes only to be thrown out afterwards. 

Think about the end of the Halloween and Fall season. After the trick-or-treaters have gone home and Thanksgiving feasts are over, businesses are often left with a large surplus of unsold pumpkins and other fall produce. A devastatingly large portion of this produce ends up in landfills, contributing to the already pressing issue of waste management. In fact, nearly half of the pumpkins produced every year are estimated to end up in the landfill once the fall festivities are over.

Unfortunately, organic waste in landfills generates the greenhouse gas methane, which is even more potent than carbon dioxide and negatively impacts the environment. This isn’t just an operational problem; it’s an environmental one. And given the increasing consumer focus on sustainability, it could soon become a reputational issue for your brand as well. The good news is that there’s a simple solution.

A Sustainable Solution: Organic Waste Recycling

So, what’s the golden ticket to turn this fall organic waste problem into an advantage? Organics recycling.

First, let’s talk returns. Implementing an organics recycling program can reduce waste disposal costs including landfill fees and hauling costs. Transporting less waste to disposal or incineration sites can decrease transportation expenses for your business – which is a win in itself.

So, how does it work? Organic recycling involves collecting organic waste materials and converting them into either: 

  • Valuable compost, through organics composting. Compost can be used for agricultural purposes, contributing to a circular economy where waste becomes a resource. 
  • Bioenergy, through processes like anaerobic digestion. You can then use this energy to power your operations – or sell it back to the grid.

Case Studies: Leading by Example

Let’s look at some real-world business examples. One food company with hundreds of pallets of recalled peanut butter worked with CheckSammy to divert it away from the landfill and instead send it to an anaerobic digestion facility. We collected 130,000 pounds of peanut butter to be converted to biofuel, helping prevent 25 tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.

Starbucks is known for investing in scalable organic waste management systems that both reduce its environmental impact and bring financial benefits. Specifically, Starbucks Japan uses its coffee grounds and food scraps to create Cattle Feed and Compost, helping reduce its organic waste footprint.

These examples demonstrate the clear benefits of implementing organics recycling, whether just for pumpkin season, or year-round. 

Choosing the Right Organics Recycling Partner

One of the most crucial steps in implementing organics recycling is choosing the right partner to manage your organic waste effectively. As with any business partnership, asking the right questions is key to a successful relationship. Here are a few things to consider:

  • How Quickly Can They Haul Away? Time is of the essence when it comes to perishable waste like pumpkins, apples, and squash. Ask potential partners about their pick-up schedules; same day or next-day pick-up is ideal.
  • What Data Do They Provide? Data drives decisions. Ensure your partner can provide comprehensive data on the amount of waste recycled, landfill diversion rates, and any other data that you can use for ESG reporting.
  • Are Their Organics Processing Facilities Local? The proximity of processing facilities can have both environmental and cost implications. Local facilities reduce transportation emissions and can also cut down on hauling costs.

A few other considerations include:

  • Industry certifications and compliance with local and federal regulations
  • Flexibility in services to adapt to your business’s seasonal and evolving needs
  • Customer service availability and emergency response times 

Remember, choosing the right partner is about making a long-term investment in your company’s ethical and financial future.

Make This Pumpkin Season a Sustainable One

Tackling fall produce season head-on offers a range of benefits – reduced operational costs, enhanced brand reputation, and of course, a smaller environmental footprint. If you’re looking for a reliable organics recycling partner that offers fast pick-up, reliable customer service, and verifiable, unalterable recycling data, CheckSammy can help. Contact us today to learn more.

Continue reading

Dive deeper into the CheckSammy Blog by reading one of our posts below

view all posts