bakery waste management
Tips to reduce bakery waste

How to Reduce Waste in a Bakery

Unsold baked goods, spoiled ingredients, and paper and plastic packaging create waste in bakeries across the world. Food waste is the main challenge as bakeries chuck away around 75,000 tonnes of edible food every year. That’s an incredible number of pastries, pasties, and loaves of bread that are baked and then binned.

Running a bakery isn’t all sweet but with some careful planning, analysis, and using the following tips it’s possible to reduce waste in any bakery. Many similar advice to reduce food waste in other industries apply to bakeries but there are some specific strategies to consider for the world of baked goods.

We’ve kneaded together some ways to reduce waste whether you run an independent village bakery, a boutique bakery in the suburbs, or a chain feeding commuters in a city centre. Find out how to reduce waste in a bakery with these expert tips and advice.

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Why do bakeries need 
to reduce waste?

More than 100 million tonnes of bread are baked every year, but it’s estimated about 900,000 tonnes of bread go to waste as well. Bakeries produce lots of these and it highlights the problem of food waste caused by bakeries. Overproduction, spoilage, and improper storage are all reasons behind bakery waste.

The more rubbish your bakery produces, the higher your waste disposal costs. Minimising waste production, the size and number of bins you need, and cutting collection frequencies should save your bakery a lot of dough. And recycling as much as possible means you’ll pay less landfill tax as well.

There’s a big environmental impact behind the waste bakeries make too. Food and other organic waste produce methane as it breaks down, which is an incredibly potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Reducing food waste from bakeries is important to minimise their carbon footprint and avoid adding to pollution levels.

food on display in a bakery.

How to reduce bakery waste

The best way to improve and cut the costs of waste collection and disposal and have a positive environmental impact is to reduce the waste your bakery produces. From trimming the amount of leftover food generated to lowering packaging waste, there are various steps you can take to reduce the amount of waste you create.

Here are a few ways to reduce bakery waste:

  • Conduct a waste audit – review the types and volumes of waste your bakery generates each day, week, and month. Identify any problem areas where you create lots of waste and set targets to reduce it, then assess whether you meet these goals.
  • Use recyclable packaging – avoid plastic packaging and opt for paper or cardboard where possible to package up baked goods that consumers can recycle once eaten. If you ship out big orders from your bakery then also use recyclable cardboard boxes and minimise plastic use.
  • Assess customer spending habits – do certain items sell better than others, especially at specific times of the year? Track sales and leftovers and adjust your own buying habits accordingly. This ensures you don’t have more supplies than you need.
  • Donating unsold products – work with local charities such as food banks and animal shelters to donate unsold edible items at the end of each day and week, rather than throwing them out – it’s the yeast you can do. Even items not fit for human consumption may be accepted by animal charities and farms to feed livestock.
  • Upgrade equipment – reduce the risk of baking equipment breaking and creating WEEE waste by regularly inspecting tools and devices and upgrading before a failure. Ensure staff have everything they need so baked goods are a success and fewer products are wasted.
  • Repair equipment – regular services, maintenance, and repairing everything from electric whisks to microwaves can save money and resources, rather than replacing an item if it breaks.
  • Take deposits for large and catering orders – avoid no-shows and the ingredients, time, and effort spent baking a batch order by taking a deposit or payment in full upfront. This reduces the likelihood of customers not showing up and should ensure the food isn’t wasted.
  • Run a recycling program – install bins across your bakery for glass, plastic, cardboard, and dry mixed recycling (as well as food waste). Separating waste at the source means less goes in with general waste and should help highlight how much rubbish your bakery creates so staff make more of an effort to reduce it.

How to reduce food waste 
in a bakery

It’s no surprise that food is the main source of waste in most bakeries. This includes unsold baked goods, spoiled ingredients, byproducts of baking, and any other foodstuffs that aren’t sold, used, or eaten. Efficient processes, care, and attention can work to reduce food waste in bakeries that benefit the environment and your bakery’s profits.

Follow these steps to reduce food waste in a bakery:

  • Train staff – inefficient baking processes can result in overproduction, excess byproducts from baking, and burnt products. Ensure all employees know how to use equipment efficiently to avoid excess waste. Training staff about proper food storage, processes, and the impact of waste on the bakery can help lower waste levels.
  • Measure accurately – good scales and accurate measurements of ingredients make the difference between a successful bake and a failure. Inaccurate measurements can ruin products and result in waste.
  • Store and package products properly – once your pastries, sweet treats, and breads are baked they must be stored at the optimum temperature to avoid spoilage. When packaging goods, have set paper bad or box sizes for each item to avoid things getting squashed before they’re sold.
  • Carefully check ‘use by’ dates – rotate ingredients in the back and regularly inspect use-by dates of them and any products on your shelves so they don’t go off. If any ingredients of food products are nearing their expiry date find a way to use them up or sell off cheaply rather than throwing them away.
  • Use leftovers and offcuts – baking certain goods will create unavoidable bits of waste food through offcuts. Work out ways to use these in other items, such as adding strips of pastry to the tops of any pies or putting excess icing on some buns.
  • Maintain your bakery equipment – prevent failures and unnecessary food waste with good cleaning and upkeep of all baking equipment. For example, faulty ovens can create under or overcooked baked goods that are unsellable, so ensure proper maintenance and regular checks.
  • Adapt your production schedule – see what sells best when and adapt. For example, do cakes and sweet treats sell better on weekends? If so, increase production on those days and decrease the production of any items less popular at that time.
  • Try Too Good To Go – a great tool for bakeries to sell goods at the end of the day for cheaper is the app Too Good To Go. List any baked goods, sandwiches, and other products that can’t be held for the next day and sell for cheaper – it’s better than them being binned!
cupcakes on display in a bakery cabinet.

Read more waste reduction guides

Beyond bakeries, many other businesses in the food service sector and other industries also create too much waste. Explore our expert guides to find ways of reducing many more waste materials and minimising rubbish production in other industries.

Guides to reduce waste
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