Pumpkin Spice … Methane?

jack-o-lanterns

With Fall comes Pumpkin everything— from Pumpkin Spice Lattes to Pumpkin flavored chips, and everything you can think of in between.  But this year, there’s news about pumpkins that is a little less delicious. According to the Energy Department, this festive vegetable is actually not as harmless as you’d think. It’s being said that the Pumpkin is responsible for unleashing harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Every year after Halloween, these Pumpkins go right out to the trash. The website for the Department of Energy says that these millions of pounds of pumpkins contribute to the already 254 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in the United States every year. This municipal waste over time decomposes into methane, which is a greenhouse gas that has more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide. Understandably, the influx in solid waste this time of year is more than noticeable due to this festive decoration. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, over one billion pounds of pumpkins are produced in the U.S. each year!

Fortunately, the Department of Energy is developing a solution for this seasonal influx of solid waste, as well as a year round solution. They are taking a crucial step in the development of the U.S. bio industry, which is to establish first-of-a-kind integrated bio-refineries that are capable of efficiently converting a broad range of biomass feedstocks into commercially viable biofuels, bio-power, and other bio-products. Integrated bio-refineries are similar to conventional refineries in that they produce a range of products to optimize both the use of feedstocks and production economics.

These pumpkins are certainly a small part of the bigger picture in the United States when it comes to waste. Municipal solid waste can be used to harness bioenergy, the Energy Department says, which can help the U.S. become less dependent on carbon-based fuels while limiting stress on landfills by reducing waste. Hopefully this new initiative will be successfully put into place soon so we could stop putting the blame on our jack-o-lanterns, and keep moving forward to making a healthier place to live!