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7 innovative ideas for a more sustainable Halloween

Innovation Snapshot

From up-cycling sweet wrappers to beer made from pumpkin carvings, here are a few tips and innovative ideas that can make Halloween less scary for the environment.

This Halloween, the amount of plastic waste generated in the UK will reach 2,000 tonnes from costumes alone.

But Halloween isn’t only a plastic nightmare. Each year, roughly 18,000 tonnes of edible pumpkin ends up being discarded as well. That’s equivalent to 1,500 double-decker buses. If we also factor in wrappers and leftover sweets, we have ourselves an even stickier mess.

From upcycling sweet wrappers to Britain’s first commercially brewed beer made from pumpkin carvings, here are a few tips and innovative ideas that can make Halloween less scary for the environment.

1. COSTUME JEWELRY BRAND RECYCLES WORN PIECES

Photo source Foxy Originals

Canada’s Foxy Originals is a jewellery recycling program that allows customers to send in their old, well-worn pieces of the company’s design. Foxy will melt down the metals from those items and turn them into brand-new designs. In exchange, consumers receive a 10 per cent discount on their next Foxy purchase. 

Toronto-based Foxy’s other socially-minded efforts include producing all its designs locally in Canada and using lead-free materials and water-based sprays instead of toxic solvents in all production.

2. COVETED ACCESSORIES MADE FROM DISCARDED PLASTIC INFLATABLES

Photo source Wyatt and Jack

If you are going to buy a “new” accessory for Halloween, choose one made from recycled plastic. Plastic reuse company Wyatt and Jack recently opened a new factory to cope with the increase in demand for their products. The husband and wife team turn old inflatables into colourful bags and purses. Based on the Isle of Wight, the business started with a set of old deck chair covers.

Made from bouncy castle PVC, punctured beach inflatables and traditional deckchair canvas, Wyatt and Jack bags are hard-wearing and colourful. The company says that it has so far kept more than 100 tonnes of plastic out of the UK’s landfills. 

Over 70 per cent of the world’s cocoa comes from small, family-operated farms in west Africa. Global warming has already started to affect cocoa production across Ghana and Ivory Coast, which together supply over half of the world’s cocoa. The Center for Tropical Agriculture estimates that changing weather patterns could lead to much of Ghana’s current cocoa-producing region unsuitable for the crop by 2030. A world without chocolate, speak of the devil. Luckily, the private sector is increasingly aware of these changes. Many companies like Nestlé, will only source sustainable and Fairtrade cocoa from now on. 

3. CHOCOLATE BLOCKCHAIN PROGRAMME SUPPORTS COCOA FARMERS

Photo source FairChain

Dutch NGO the FairChain Foundation has partnered with the United Nations Development Programme to develop a more equitable chocolate bar called The Other Bar. The bar, made with Ecuadorian-grown cocoa, comes with an opportunity to help fund growers. 

Inside each wrapper is a code that can be scanned to donate a blockchain token to the farmers who produced the cocoa. The scan will also show buyers exactly how much the farmer was paid for the cocoa in their bar and the exact GPS coordinates of the cacao tree where the cocoa for their bar was harvested. The token can also be used to get money off the next bar purchased.

FairChain is committed to helping by ensuring that farmers are paid better prices for their cocoa. The project includes paying farmers €3,080 per metric ton for their cocoa, compared to €2,174 from Fair Trade and around €1,721 from commercial buyers.

4. SUSTAINABLE CHOCOLATE USES THE ENTIRE FRUIT

Photo source Barry Callebaut on Flickr

Swiss luxury chocolate maker Barry Callebaut has developed a way to reduce waste by using the entire cacao fruit in chocolate manufacture. Traditionally, only the cacao beans are used in chocolate-making, and around 70 per cent of the fruit is discarded as waste. However, Callebaut has found a way to also use the pulp, which tastes fruity and acts as a natural sweetener. The peel, which contains a variety of nutrients, and the fruity-tasting juice is also used in the process.

Last year, Barry Callebaut launched its ruby chocolate, pink-coloured chocolate with a subtle berry flavour made from Ruby cacao beans. A range using the new chocolate will be marketed under the name Cacaofruit Experience. It will be for sale to artisanal chocolatiers and major brands such as Mondolez, which will make products using the ingredient under the new CaPao brand.

5. WORLD’S FIRST RECYCLABLE SNACK WRAPPER FOR MASS PRODUCTION

Photo source Nestlé

Swiss sweets and snack maker Nestlé is now using a recyclable paper wrapper with one of its products. The recently launched line of Yes! snack bars is the first to use a paper wrapper developed with high-speed flow wrap technology, the company says. The method most commonly used to wrap snack bars only works with unrecyclable plastic films and laminates. 

The new packaging is made of a coated paper that can be recycled along with other paper products. The paper itself comes from sources certified as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council or The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. The new wrapper technology is part of Nestlé’s commitment to make all its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.

6. GARBAGE INTO GOLD, NOW VIA DISCARDED WRAPPERS

Photo by Carl Raw on Unsplash

TerraCycle has found yet another way to create gold out of garbage by turning discarded wrappers and juice pouches into bags, pencil boxes and other accessories.

As part of its ongoing mission to “eliminate the idea of waste,” as its website puts it, TerraCycle has struck deals with large food and beverage manufacturers to collect the wrappers from their products and “upcycle” them into new, unique accessories.

Nabisco has sponsored TerraCycle’s cookie wrapper program. ClifBar and Kraft’s Balance Bar have also sponsored initiatives to upcycle their energy bar wrappers. There are additional programs for corks, yoghurt cups, soda bottles and Bear Naked granola bags.

7. Britain’s first commercially brewed beer made from pumpkin flesh

Photo by Kerstin Wrba on Unsplash

Social enterprise Toast Ale will brew Britain’s first commercially brewed beer made from pumpkin flesh.

Three years ago, Toast Ale launched beer made from surplus bread. In the UK, 44 per cent of bread is wasted. Toast Ale aims to change that by using bakery surplus bakery as a key ingredient in beer production. Now, they will brew beer using squashes collected by volunteers from local farms.

Pumpkins carving contributes to the €16 billion of food waste in UK homes every year. Using pumpkin flesh that would otherwise go to waste, The Belgian-style pumpkin beer will go on sale at the end of November.

Written by: Katrina Lane