Choose environment-friendly packaging for your bakery
Bakers must think beyond traditional packaging choices when assessing environmental impact.
Photo courtesy of Sealed Air Corp.
The trend toward environmental awareness has encompassed the wholesale baking industry during the past five years, creating ramped-up demand for greener packaging options.
When it comes to packaging practices, bakers looking to go green tend to focus on the actual packaging. But they shouldn't overlook packaging methods and processes. Vendors are stepping up to the plate to meet the demand for environmentally-friendly packaging by creating new options, from packaging and shipping methods to the packaging material itself.
“We certainly see a trend in which bakers are very interested in how they can be a greener company in all aspects,” says Etienne Snollaerts, C.E.O., Coldpack, San Diego. About five years ago, he noticed a sharp increase in the number of bakeries inquiring about the environmental benefits of his company's insulated shipping liners.
The trend toward diminishing packaging waste is driven by wholesale bakers striving to operate more environmentally efficiently. As consumers become more environmentally savvy, the days of using inordinate amounts of energy, potentially harmful chemicals and wasteful packaging to create disposable products are coming to an end.
Becoming a greener operation offers a side benefit as well. A bakery that promotes itself as a socially responsible enterprise may see increased revenues as it capitalizes on consumer demand for environmental awareness. Last year, more than 250 IBM executives were surveyed on corporate social responsibility. Most viewed social responsibility as an opportunity to gain competitive advantage and grow revenue, says Mark Wilterding, IBM's global leader for product lifecycle management consulting.
Photo by Bruce Hazelton.
Exploring greener pastures
Bakers aren't shy about touting their use of environmentally-friendly packaging. Vegan cookie maker Liz Lovely, Waitsfield, Vt., includes a fairly prominent statement on the company's website that details its commitment to environmentally-friendly packaging.
In the food industry, it's not easy being green. Packaged foods need to be airtight to maintain freshness, which is a major contributor to plastic waste, says Liz Holtz, founder of Liz Lovely. The company takes advantage of new packaging concepts made from renewable materials that also are recyclable and biodegradable, she adds.
The cookie company is now testing NatureFlex, which Holtz hopes will offer an alternative to polypropylene cookie bags. NatureFlex, from Innovia Films, Atlanta, is made from wood pulp harvested from managed plantations.
Liz Lovely also is committed to using BPA-free packaging, Holtz adds. The company uses containers from NatureWorks LLC, Minnetonka, Minn., which produces what it calls bio-plastic, a biodegradable material made from corn. Bio-plastic doesn't contain BPA.
Photo by Bruce Hazelton.
About one year ago, NatureWorks began seeing its biopolymer's use in the baking industry really take off, notes Mary Rosenthal, marketing communications manager. “There's a whole drive toward sustainability out there and bakeries are looking at what they can do with their own products,” Rosenthal adds.
Her company's biopolymer, Ingeo, is made from dextrose derived from corn. Rosenthal says the product emits 75 percent fewer greenhouse gases than traditional packaging plastics and uses 50 percent fewer fossil fuels to create it.
Ingeo first found traction in the produce aisle four years ago and that impetus quickly morphed into in-store bakeries, Rosenthal says. Bakers supplying SuperTarget bakeries, for example, are packaging products, such as cookies, croissants and muffins, in Ingeo, Rosenthal says.
Using renewable resources
Similarly, Biosphere Products, Carpinteria, Calif., and Sealed Air Corp., Saddle Brook, N.J., recently joined forces to introduce a line of compostable trays and pans. Wholesale bakers-particularly those supplying products to in-store bakeries-have taken to the product called Renew-a-Pak.
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