Halloween, once a time of joy, is now contributing to environmental problems in the UK. But AI is emerging as a crucial ally in the fight against waste, helping retailers meet consumer demands while reducing their impact on the planet.

Studies show that 60% of UK consumers who purchase pumpkins for Halloween do not use them for food, leaving a staggering 450 million kilograms of pumpkin waste behind.

Additionally, a study conducted by Hubbu has found that 83% of Halloween costumes, predominantly made from non-recyclable oil-based plastics, end up in landfill sites.

This yearly ritual generates 2,000t of plastic waste, equivalent to 83 million plastic bottles.

The call for retailers to act

Rather than laying blame on consumers, experts argue that retailers must take responsibility and act to reduce waste at its source: the supply chain.

Supply chain and retail planning platform provider RELEX suggests that AI forecasting and planning solutions hold the key to optimising supply chain and merchandising processes, thereby curbing waste during peak seasons, including Halloween.

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AI’s role in waste reduction

RELEX Head of Sustainability Svante Gothe emphasised that AI can provide highly accurate demand forecasts by factoring in numerous demand drivers. This enables businesses to improve planning across merchandising, supply chain and operations, ultimately leading to waste reduction.

Gothe stressed that retailers must strike a balance between reducing their environmental impact and meeting customer expectations. Halloween, in particular, presents a challenge for retailers due to the limited shelf life of pumpkins, which are at high risk of spoiling.

Overproduction and waste are significant concerns in the supply chain, especially when forecasts and planned orders are not effectively communicated throughout.

A collaborative approach

Gothe pointed out the importance of collaboration in the supply chain, sharing plans and forecasts with producers and reducing the risk of overproduction. With AI tools, retailers can better navigate the challenges posed by factors like inflation and economic uncertainty while striving to reduce waste.

In conclusion, AI is not a magic wand, but it can be a vital tool to achieve sustainable supply chain practices. With a unified plan across retail organisations and a shared commitment to waste reduction, it’s not only possible but also a sensible business strategy.

As Halloween approaches, consumers and retailers alike are urged to embrace sustainability as a new tradition.