Could Pumpkins solve the UK's energy problems?

Posted: Monday 30th October 2017

Halloween is indeed a time of strange goings-on, so it should be no surprise that the good old pumpkin is playing its part this time around.

It helps explain why members of a volunteer group braved the rain to run around Parc Bryn Bach in Tredegar dressed as pumpkins.

They had something to share with bemused onlookers, fellow Blaenau Gwent residents and the public generally.

The Parkrun runners had teamed up with Recycle for Wales' campaign to highlight how pumpkins can be transformed into energy.

They were keen to get the message across that this years left-over Halloween pumpkins can boost energy levels in the county.

New Recycle for Wales data reveals that recycling 30,865 pumpkin shells, equivalent to one from every household in Blaenau Gwent, could generate enough energy to power the visitor centre at the park for over 52 days.

Recycled pumpkin shells could also power homes and household appliances just one recycled shell could generate enough energy to power a typical home for one hour or fully charge three laptops.

Currently, just over half of Blaenau Gwent residents recycle their household food waste, despite food recycling services being available in the area.

Why recycle pumpkins?

Around 210,000 tonnes of household food waste ends up in landfill from across Wales, which contributes to the creation of methane, a greenhouse gas.

When you recycle pumpkins, or any food in Blaenau Gwent, it is sent to an anaerobic digestion processing plant. Anaerobic digestion involves the natural breakdown of food into methane and carbon dioxide gas but, instead of escaping into the atmosphere, these gases are used to generate electricity.

This electricity can then be used to heat and power homes in the local community. It can also produce fertiliser which can be used in agriculture.

'Help us to help the environment'

Recycle for Wales campaign manager Angela Spiteri said: "Although many of the residents in Blaenau Gwent are already recycling their food waste, there's still more we can do.

"Almost a quarter of the waste found in the general rubbish in Blaenau Gwent is food waste all of which can be recycled.

How your leftovers could end up powering your home

Everyone creates a certain amount of food waste, no matter how conscientious we are, and Halloween is a great time for us to highlight how we can recycle more food waste while having fun at Halloween.

"Whether its pumpkin shells or the cores leftover from a game of bobbing apples; many food items can be recycled. If we all recycled one more thing it could really improve Blaenau Gwent recycling rates.

A Blaenau Gwent Council spokesman said: In Blaenau Gwent we recycle all of the items in your food caddy and it all goes to an anaerobic digestion plant to create energy.

"After the Halloween festivities have taken place this year, we can collect your pumpkins from the doorstep. The whole pumpkin can be placed next to your green food caddie, and we all collect it on your usual recycling day during the week following Halloween.

Pumpkin power in our homes:

* Four recycled pumpkin shells could generate enough energy to power a shower for 10 minutes.

* One recycled pumpkin shell could generate enough energy to power a TV for three hours.

* Recycling one pumpkin shell could generate enough energy to power a hairdryer for 13 minutes.

"Get involved" is the message

Parc Bryn Bach facilities team leader Steven Jayne said: "With our wonderful wildlife and eco-friendly facilities, it is important for us that our visitors don't impact on the environment.

"We were keen to partner with Recycle for Wales to help educate on the importance of food waste recycling, as we recycle all our food waste here at the park.

"Seeing our regular visitors and new ones enjoying the pumpkin race was brilliant, and we hope as a result theyall go home and recycle their own pumpkins."

What should I do with my pumpkins?

This Halloween, remember how powerful food recycling can be. When carving your pumpkin, don't throw the seeds in the centre away - recycle them or, even better, reduce your waste even more by making something delicious and healthy out of the insides, like this spicy pumpkin soup.

Here is the recipe:

Preparation time, five minutes

Cooking time, 60 minutes

Serves one

Ingredients: Half a pumpkin, one sweet potato, half red pepper, one and a half cups (375 ml) of water, one cup (250 ml) full fat milk, one red chilli, pinches of salt and pepper for seasoning

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius.

Remove the pumpkin flesh with a spoon, and peal the sweet potato.

Chop the pumpkin and sweet potato into one-inch cubes.

Slice the red peppers and put all vegetables on a roasting tray, with a drizzle of oil.

Place in the oven to roast for 30-40 minutes, until soft.

Allow all the vegetables to cool a little.

Once cool enough to handle, add the pumpkin, sweet potato and peppers to a blender with the water, milk and diced chilli, and blend until smooth.

Pour into a saucepan and heat until piping hot, adding more water if you like a slightly thinner soup.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Chef's tip: To give the soup a sweeter flavour, roast the pumpkin and sweet potato until they are dark and caramelised. It is important to allow the veg to cool before putting in the blender as the pressure of the steam could create a mess in the kitchen.

Use up: Use up some uncooked veg that you may have left over from another dish.

Variations: To make this a more balanced dish, you can serve with garlic croutons or a few slices of bread and butter. You can also vary the ingredients buy using butternut squash instead of, or as an addition to, the pumpkin.

Extra flavour: Adding your own mix of herbs and spices can really enhance this dish, such as coriander, cumin, oregano or fennel seeds.

Freezer advice: It is a fantastic idea to freeze portions of this soup, which allows you to have homemade soup on future occasions without the preparation time.

Vegan options: To adapt this dish for vegans, replace the milk with vegetable stock or coconut milk, both of which will create different flavours.

Allergy advice: This versatile dish is easily adapted to avoid allergens and be suitable for most diets.

Food recycling is available across Wales. Find out more about how to recycle by visiting http//:www.recycleforwales.org.uk/food




Read the magazine online

December 2018

About the magazine »
Magazine archive »


Advertisements

Information for advertisers »

Sykes Pumps
British Water Prominent Fluid Controls Harvey Communications buttonwood marketing Water Aid Verder Pulsar Button June 13 Huber wateractive
Pulsar New Banner