450million kgs of Halloween pumpkin waste must be saved

While polls consistently show the British public making more and more purchasing decisions based on environmental criteria, 31st October continues to be a food waste nightmare. 

jack o lantern with light

According to a study by Hubbub, 60% of UK consumers that buy pumpkins for Halloween only use these for decorative purposes, leading to a staggering 450million kilograms of waste that could be used as food. Meanwhile, 83% of Halloween costumes purchased are made from non-recyclable, oil-based plastics, which wind up at landfill sites. 

In total, 7million costumes are thrown away each year, and these alone generate 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste. This is the same as 83million plastic bottles. But while shoppers themselves bear some responsibility, experts are also calling on retailers to improve supply chain efficiencies and optimise stock for the climate change era, helping reduce impact and limit the amount of waste created from unsold items. 

‘With the help of AI, retailers can get highly accurate demand forecasts by automatically capturing the impact of hundreds of demand drivers. Businesses have visibility into future demand, allowing for improved planning processes across merchandising, supply chain, and operations, leading to reduced waste,’ said Svante Gothe, Head of Sustainability at supply chain and retail planning specialist RELEX. ‘Across the Halloween season, it is not as simple as one might think. Halloween pumpkins create a distinct challenge in taking roughly 90-120 days to grow, meaning decisions on how many to produce must happen months before Halloween.’

In the year to April 2023, around 11million kilograms of food waste has been saved through the use of artificial intelligence within supply chains. This equated to around 35,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, and enough ingredients to feed the entire city of Durham for 12 months. Nevertheless, 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions continue to come from food waste, with the average UK family throwing away £800 worth of edibles on an annual basis.

More on food waste:

WRAP Surplus Food Redistribution: Data shows scheme’s increasing success

#TooGoodToWaste campaign launches in bid to cut food waste

Stop Food Waste Day: AI stops retailers dumping 11m kg

Image: Miguel Teirlinck


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