Pondering a Zero Waste Bakehouse

Busy getting the bakehouse ready, and have been pondering what a zero waste bakehouse would look like.

What do I mean by zero waste? Well as Anne-Marie Bonneau’s strap line on zero waste chef  summarises neatly – “no packaging, nothing processed, no waste”. There are now a number of zero waste restaurants and cafe’s springing up challenging the wasteful mainstream, like the Silo team down in Brighton (which is one of a number of eateries around the world on the “to eat at” list)…

One of doughies founding principles is to #treadlightly and we think that operating towards zero waste (i.e. minimising our footprint) is part of that. So for doughies, here’s what our current waste footprint looks like, and a few ideas for how we might reduce it going forward:-

1. Waste coming in from others

Before we’ve even made a loaf of sourdough, we’ve got a certain amount of waste entering the bakehouse. Mainly packaging. We have two main types:-

a) Paper and cardboard – notably flour sacks (normally paper, with a string closure) and cardboard packaging on deliveries.

b) Plastic tubs and containers – such as 5litre plastic tubs of salt and oil.

Currently a) is used to light a communal log boiler and b) are getting re-used (salt tubs being very handy!), but as we start to bake more this year we will be overwhelmed with both, and if not careful b) in particular will end up in landfill.

The solution? Deliveries in re-useable containers from our suppliers (oil, salt and flour) that get returned for re-filling. This is not going to happen overnight, but it’s something we’re aspiring too. We need a modern take on cotton flour sacks and wooden oil barrels!

Flour deliveries – waste and all

2. Waste we create whilst baking

During the mixing, shaping, proving and baking of a sourdough, we create a certain amount of flour waste –  flouring work surfaces, baskets and clothes along with the inevitable floor spills.

Currently this flour waste all goes to landfill, but we’re going to introduce a flour waste bin, and this will then be fed to our flock of hens, who in return shall provide the bakery with eggs for use in enriched doughs (quite excited about this micro food loop!).

Flour waste bucket for the chooks (one brush for worktop sweepings, another for floor sweepings)

3. Waste we create whilst delivering

Bread leaving the bakehouse en-route to either businesses, markets or eaters creates boxes, paper bags and (in the case of freezer ready sourdough) foil wrap.

The solutions:-

  • Re-usable wood crates for delivery; perhaps left as point of sale branding.
  • Encourage / educate consumers to bring cloth bags rather than the retailer providing paper ones, which are also an ideal way to store bread in the cupboard / bread bin at home
  • Re-useable freezer food bags for freezer deliveries;
Educating consumers to pickup bread in re-useable cloth bags


4. Waste bread

Waste bread I hear you cry? Ok so the stacks of waste sourdough hasn’t quite happened to us yet; our sourdough tends to evaporate from the cooling rack. And small scale producers like us will generally produce much less waste produce than a larger producer; but it is still a possible area of waste creation.

The solution? Give waste bread away for free to those in need; freeze it, or up-cycle it into new products – such as sourdough breadcrumbs or sourdough bread and butter pudding. Yum.


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