Baking Sustainability into Your Bakery

Posted February 16, 2022

Consumers nowadays are changing their preferences and using their buying power to affect change. They are opting for fresher, more organic food and gravitating towards farm-to-table concepts. While going green may seem like a hard commitment, it can bring numerous benefits to your bakery business. Not only will it help you cut down on waste and food costs and save you money on utilities, it will also make your bakery more "marketable" and turn you into a preferred supplier for your retailers. We've got five ideas to help jump start or supplement your sustainability message to your patrons.

1. SOURCE EVERYTHING IN A MORE SUSTAINABLE WAY

When you're looking at investing in new equipment, fitting out your space, or thinking about product packaging, try and make use of recycled and repurposed materials. You can also invest in energy-efficient appliances, which will help you cut down on your power and water consumption, all whilst helping you create an environmentally friendly bakery. Some appliances you can install that are energy-efficient include CFL bulbs and LED lights, spot air conditioners, and motion sensor lights for bathrooms.

2. USE LOCAL AND ORGANIC INGREDIENTS 

Think about buying your produce locally. Source free-range eggs, organic butter, milk, and flour from a local farmer or mill instead of relying on produce to be delivered from huge distances. This is known as lowering your 'Carbon Footprint.' The more you limit your transportation needs and choose to source your ingredients from the closest producers, the smaller impact you'll have on our environment.

You could also consider making some of your ingredients on the premises. It's more sustainable (and can be a cost-saving measure, too) if you make your own buttercream, chocolate sauces, and chocolate chips. If this seems impossible, and we understand that it may be, then choose to work with environmentally conscious suppliers or those businesses that are also committed to sustainability.

3. REDUCE YOUR PACKAGING WASTE

The ultimate sustainability goal is to run your bakery reducing packaging when it is not needed and utilizing packaging that is easy to recycle and ideally comes from renewable resources. This might seem like an impossible task, but you can work with your existing or new packaging suppliers and make your requirements clear.

The reduction of unnecessary disposable items and the use of alternative materials are often relatively easy to implement. If your bakery is a cafe, provide paper or metal straws to your customers instead of the traditional plastic straws. Please encourage them to bring their reusable cups, too, so you cut down on the number of takeaway coffee cups. These are small changes that can make a big difference. 

4. DECREASE YOUR WATER USAGE

Did you know that foodservice establishments are one of the largest consumers of water? So, you must understand how to conserve it, which will reduce the energy needed to sustain your business. 

There are many ways to minimize your water usage. For example, when cleaning your baking utensils or incorporating your restrooms with water-saving sinks and toilets, you can utilize low-flow spray valves. It's also great to embrace simple water-efficient practices in your kitchen. These may include keeping the plugin your sink to collect water that can be used for rinsing later and turning the faucet off while you lather your hands with soap. It is the simple things!

5. DONATE OR REPURPOSE YOUR UNSOLD PRODUCTS

In the US, between 30% and 40% of the food produced goes to waste*. Minimizing your food waste is good for the environment because all the energy, water, and soil nutrients that go into making that food are preserved. For example, if you have unsold baked products, you can donate them to charities, nursing homes, and health care centers rather than throwing them away. In addition, we suggest that you team up with food rescue organizations such as FOODRESCUEUS. These types of organizations engage volunteers to transfer fresh food surpluses from local businesses to social service agencies serving the food insecure.

Apart from donating, you can also repurpose your leftovers. For example, turn your unsold bread into toasties, your excess croissants into delicious puddings.

These practical actions might not seem like much, but they are the very first step that comes after acknowledging a wider problem in terms of our environment, waste and a more responsible use of resources.

For more information on food waste in the US and steps being taken to addres this issue, visit https://www.usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs.