Several stewards of the environment are making a difference in their bakery operations and their customers’ operations. That’s whySnack Food & Wholesale Bakeryis recognizing their efforts in a new IBIE program that asks companies to Become Environmentally Sustainable Together (B.E.S.T.).

By Lauren R. Hartman

Becoming environmentally sustainable is never an easy task, but it’s one of the baking industry’s top priorities. That’s why several ingredient and equipment suppliers are making a commitment to provide positive sustainable practices. Interested participants can learn more about these and other good manufacturing practices at the 2010 International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE), Sept. 26–29 in Las Vegas. In conjunction withSnack Food & Wholesale Bakeryand The Long Co., IBIE is honoring a select group of exhibitors as the first triennial B.E.S.T. (Becoming Environmentally Sustainable Together) in Baking program for their efforts of putting a “green” stamp on their operations.

This new program isn’t a contest, rather it’s designed to evaluate companies for their environmental focuses through innovative products, services, technologies and more. The vision is to recognize suppliers that foster ways to decrease landfill waste, conserve energy and promote overall healthy living. The B.E.S.T. in Baking also recognizes companies who have developed advanced technologies that benefit plant operations, lower costs and make substantial contributions to efforts that reduce a company’s carbon footprint.

The companies showcased in B.E.S.T. in Baking demonstrate their focus on sustainability through improved energy and transport efficiency, machinery and recyclable materials efficiency, reductions in packaging, solid waste, water and greenhouse gases, the harnessing of energy, eliminating wastewater needs, boosting the carbon footprint and more.

To participate, the B.E.S.T. in Baking program provided entrants with a list of open-ended questions about how they can help the baking industry become “greener.” The judging panel consisted of Jon R. Anderson, head of OSHA Compliance & Educational Product Development at AIB International; Theresa Cogswell, president of BakerCogs, Inc.; Jeff Dearduff, director of U.S. bakeries for East Balt, Inc. and contributing columnist for Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery; Mike deBoom, director of manufacturing for Unified Grocers, Inc., Bakery Division; Ed Delate, vice president of global engineering and CSR at Keystone Foods; Audra Karalius, vice president, sustainability, environment and safety for Sara Lee Corp.; and Bill Zimmerman, a bakery operations management consultant for Zims Consulting, LLC.

The judging panel evaluated each entry and selected 11 as most worthy of B.E.S.T. designation along with five honorable mentions or “others that are making sustainable strides.” Winners were announced on July 19, and were also recognized at IBIE 2010.

Waste Heat Recovery
Air Management Technologies, Inc., Lewisburg, Pa., has a self-contained system that recovers the waste heat from oven and oxidizer stacks that can be used in a bakery, eliminating the need for boilers.

“We have various systems that save energy, but this is our most recognized system in the baking industry. It eliminates the need for external energy sources to provide heating for various process users including proofers, water heating and others,” says Scott G. Houtz, president of Air Management Technologies.

With the cost of natural gas escalating by as much as 300% from 1999 to 2008, energy savings are paramount for bakeries that depend on this key commodity. Capturing heat from ovens in an existing plant can provide significant energy savings in the form of hot water boiler energy, and the more hours an oven is operational, the more savings can be realized, which, in turn, eases the bottom line. The proprietary new system can supply the required amount of heat to proofing, process water heating, tray washing and various other areas of a facility, according to Air Management Technologies, and saves on maintenance costs with no feedwater treatment or boiler maintenance.

The system operates using heat from an oven exhaust stream that passes through the plant’s oven(s) and/or catalytic oxidizer, which can be equipped with a recovery coil and control elements to regulate the heating output. The Sustainable Waste Heat Management System (SWHMS) is said to assure a constant supply of heat to the processes during all modes of operation and is typically located outdoors, eliminating the need for building space and assorted boiler room operating requirements. A central hot water glycolic distribution loop provides heating from the recovery system to end users at 200-210ºF. The results can help save two-line plants as much as $40,000 to $80,000 a year in operating costs, according to the company’s brochures.

The judges gave the Oxidizer/Oven Heat Recovery System’s technology high marks, indicating it’s something that more and more bakeries will want to evaluate to save on greenhouse gases and maximize energy. The potential to reap a payback by eliminating conventional boilers, one judge says, is an excellent concept, especially when emission controls for older boilers is a growing concern. Air Management Technologies reports that the system has been successfully installed in several locations throughout the United States and Canada.

Pan-tastic Pans
American Pan/Bundy Baking, Urbana, Ohio, offers a new line of bread/bun pans designed to accelerate pan cooling times, improve baking efficiency, reduce oven and proofer energy consumption and maintenance costs on conveyors, stackers and other pan handling equipment. Made of high-gauge, high tensile strength aluminized steel, the e and e2 pans weigh 45% less than traditional pans and require less energy to transport. In fact, studies conducted by Austin Kozman, manager of R&D at Stewart Systems, found that at least 18% of total oven energy is wasted on heating pans. Because ovens are typically the largest consumer of energy in a bakery, if the amount of energy required to heat pans can be reduced, the amount of energy consumed by the bakery can be significantly reduced. Thus, reducing pan mass by 30-50% can save 6-10% of total oven energy consumption and consequently reduce the bakery’s carbon footprint, American Pan/Bundy Baking says.

The seamless pan construction with a weldless rim and an anti-shingling design also requires a lower volume of raw material to manufacture, the company notes, resulting in less resource consumption. The pans also require less time to cool, the company states. They can be furnished with proprietary AMERICOAT Plus or DuraShield coatings that have easy-release characteristics to reduce the amount of water used for pan sanitation.

With improved strength and less metal in the structure and pans, the judges predict this innovation to be a good way to save energy.

Cleaning Up With Steam 
AmeriVap Systems’ Xtreme Steam line of industrial sanitation solutions offers efficient, affordable deep cleaning and sanitizing. Its culinary grade, super-heated, saturated, dry steam vapor-generating system cleans and sanitizes most surfaces and hard-to-reach places. Even drains become micro-organism-free without the use of harsh, contaminating chemicals. The culinary-grade, super-heated dry steam vapor sanitizing technology is fast, safe, economical and eco-friendly, says AmeriVap, Dawsonville, Ga. The Xtreme Steam industrial product line excels in areas such as stainless steel surfaces including wrappers, slicers/dicers, scales/sensors, conveyors/chains, belts, sprockets, rollers, feeders, gaskets and racks. It also can be used on electrical panels and fixtures, refrigeration systems walls, ceilings, baseboards, vents and fans.

The judges liked the technology for its sustainable benefits and its high performance without the use of harsh chemicals. Using one ounce of water per minute, the super-heated dry steam saves on water usage and can enhance indoor environmental quality. AmeriVap reports that the dry steam vapor equipment can be used as part of a green cleaning program when pursuing the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The low moisture content curbs water residue left behind on surfaces.

In addition, Houdini, AmeriVap’s patented conveyor belt cleaner that can be used in-situ, is a sanitizer powered by AmeriVap’s Xtreme Steam dry steam vapor generating system, which cleans mesh, plastic, metal and flat conveyor belts.  

Energy Saver for Ovens
Banner-Day’s Total Oven Control (TOC) system reduces energy by as much as 25% by offering precise temperature control under all modes of direct fired gas oven operation: Full, empty or partial. The system also saves electrical energy (100 watt hours per burner, per hour) by shutting off ignition spark once a burner is lit. The control features SmartBake, which provides “recipe” control, “tray skipping” and zone burner capacity management, says Joseph Day, president of the Saginaw, Mich.-based equipment maker.

“This provides for flexible, highly reliable, energy conscious direct gas-fired oven operation,” Day says.
Other features include tight product changeover (as short as a one-zone break), switching off all zones during extended production breaks and continued operation with a damaged tray.

Zone temperatures are controlled to ±2°F of set point. All “active” zone burners modulate between high and low fire as a function of zone thermocouple temperature input and recipe control set points. Energy is saved by the elimination of zone temperature over-rides (flash heat) that boost oven exhaust stack temperatures and oven radiation and convection losses. Temperature over-rides during oven breaks can be as much as 75-80°F with constant spark burner ignition systems.

Equipped with a color touchscreen operator interface, the TOC system shuts off gas flow to any burner that’s staged off or fails to light or stay lit. Each gas burner is individually monitored and controlled.

Recyclable, Biodegradable Twist-ties
Bedford Industries, Worthington, Minn., has made several sustainable moves, including the development of a narrower twist-tie wire stock that’s made from recycled scrap. A supplier of single- and double-wire tin-ties to many major bakeries, Bedford supplies single-wire twist ties that can be used on bread, bun, roll, donut and tortilla bags, while its double-wire tin-tie is used on donut and cookie bags. The ties cut solid waste by grinding the plastic waste to make other products or for use in recycled lumber products. The ties also save and re-spool partial spools of steel wire from production runs. In fact, Bedford has transitioned the tie material widths from 5/32 to 1/8 in., which improved manufacturing efficiencies and increased wire spool size from 6,000 to 8,000 ft., resulting in less downtime.

Even more interesting is its biodegradable tie products for the baking industry. These tie products are certified biodegradable (American Society for Testing Materials [ASTM] D5511-02) and are currently being tested for ASTM D6400 (Standard Specification for Compostable Plastics) certification.

In addition to recycling and biodegradability, Bedford has installed T8 energy-saving light fixtures throughout its production and warehouse areas. The light fixtures went from 430 to 210 w., and allowed the company’s buildings to reuse waste heat from manufacturing processes in cold temperatures and have outside fluid coolers to cut down on its air conditioner load in hot weather. Its manufacturing plant floor plan also has been reorganized to fit more equipment in the same space.

Water usage is being cut with the installation of new fixtures designed to minimize water waste and flow and 40% of the company’s electricity comes from renewable sources of hydropower and wind. A new building under construction will incorporate some systems designed using LEED consideration.

The judges liked these in-house initiatives, with one saying it’s a great example of how the corporate sustainability efforts with the twist-ties can assist customers in being sustainable.

Putting the Squeeze on Shipments
Colborne Foodbotics, LLC has created what it calls the BBL-POP Systems Program packaging process for baked goods that helps cut the carbon footprint by minimizing the number of transport trucks a bakery requires. Fewer trucks consume less fuel, oil, wearparts and maintenance supplies.

The Lake Forest, Ill., automated food processing/packaging equipment manufacturer also introduced a BBL Robotic tray/case loader with full pattern pickup, vision quality inspection and gentle compression modules that help improve package density and reduce shipping cube space.

The full program includes software tools for each customer to evaluate their potential options, analyze the benefits through their distribution network and build cost justifications and the robotic equipment necessary to safely pack product into baskets, trays and/or cases. The companion pack pattern optimization program (POP) simplifies the selection of pack patterns to optimize handling and distribution efficiency throughout the supply chain. These are used in conjunction with spreadsheet-based software that models distribution costs and provides cost savings associated with specific improvements in package density identified by the POP.  Doing so helps further an economic justification to getting the capital project approved.

This program is suitable for the distribution of fresh baked goods shipped by truck or van to the final retail outlet, in which a “considerable amount of air” is handled along with pastries, rolls, bread and more. But products can often shrink by as much as 15% while traveling to retail outlets, according to the company. Thus, what can start out as a small issue at the bakery magnifies as it moves to the final destination, creating quality issues if the product bounces around en route to a store. The BBL-POP robotic equipment carefully and gently pre-compresses baked goods to normal shelf size so that they arrive in better shape. This also helps customers save in the baking plant and throughout the broad distribution network.

“Customers can make a huge contribution to the sustainability initiative,” says Rick Hoskins, director of sales and marketing. “There will also be less plant and warehouse space required to store and stage products and fewer forklifts moving basket stacks around. That results in lower energy requirements for heating/cooling, lighting, cleaning and maintaining.”

A typical bakery has the potential to increase the amount of product on each delivery tray by an average of 20-30%, Hoskins says. Key to how the robotic equipment operates is its four-sided compression system that evenly compresses a complete pack pattern of product so that the product accepts the compression load.

“This distributes the force evenly and eliminates any damage issues,” Hoskins says. “The bottom line is, we are taking the product and shaping into what ends up being the dimension of a loaf within a 24-hour period, due to natural shrinkage. We find that the quality of the product at the store level is actually higher than a loosely packed basket.”

“Innovative and interesting” were some of the judges’ comments about the BBL-POP robotic system. One judge mentioned that it “sounds like squeezing the bread has a potential payback. Any reduction in transport costs goes directly to the bottom line.”

Shelf-life Savvy Solution
Danisco USA’s Natamax B, an antimicrobial ingredient solution and mold growth inhibitor for the surfaces of products such as pan bread, English muffins and tortillas, is used in parts per million, rather than percent by weight, reducing ingredient shipping costs and emissions. This solution can extend the shelf life of bakery products, reducing product returns and consequently food waste, packaging and carbon emissions associated with shipping, storage, handling and production processes, says the New Century, Kan., company.

Natamax B contains the active compound Natamycin, a natural inhibitor produced by bacterial fermentation and used commercially in foods and beverages since the 1970s to destroy mold in products such as shredded cheese, says Rebecca Bingman, marketing manager. It can be sprayed as an aqueous suspension onto baked goods immediately after baking and depanning. As water evaporates, the solution remains on the surface of the product to protect it from mold growth. The spray application system was designed by Danisco for typically large-scale manufacturers of baked goods.

The solution serves as an alternative to options that may negatively impact flavor or are expensive to use, Bingman reports.

“Synthetic preservatives can sometimes adversely affect product flavor. With Natamax B, flavor is not affected and shelf life can be significantly improved,” she says.

Danisco says it hasn’t yet quantified all of the savings, but it does state that the solution can improve taste and extend shelf life of bakery products at a minimum 50% lower cost in use compared with any other natural mold inhibitor ingredient solutions.

Eco-wise Wheat
Horizon Milling’s Eco-Grain wheat, which is used in Sara Lee’s EarthGrainsbread, features new ingredient technology that one judge called “cutting edge.” Eco-Grain technology involves precision agricultural farming practices aimed to lessen potentially negative environmental impacts associated with farming. The company says that the wheat allows farmers to use less fertilizer, which in turn, requires less energy and generates fewer emissions, while increasing the amount of wheat grown on the land. Satellite imagery and soil samples identify the best use of fertilizer on farm fields and data collected allows farmers to apply nutrients to a crop only where it’s needed.

Now made with 20% Eco-Grain wheat, theEarthGrainsbread varieties include 100% Whole Wheat, 7-Grain, Wheat Berry with Honey and Multi-Grain, Oat and Double-Fiber White Wheat.

In the first three months on the market, theEarthGrainsbrand sold approximately three million loaves of bread, requiring 17 fewer acres needed to grow the grain and saving 13,500 lb. of fertilizer and 2,700 gallons of diesel fuel.

With a network of 22 flour mills, a broad portfolio of bakery mixes and risk-management services, Horizon Milling, Wayzata, Minn., delivers solutions to bakery- and flour-based food processors across North America. Products in both bulk and bagged forms range from standard patent flour and whole wheat flour to specialty ingredients. A key benefit of its Eco-Grain wheat is that it helps further differentiate Sara Lee’s bread and meets growing demands of environmentally conscious consumers looking for high-quality foods that also are respectful of the environment.

Recycled Foil
HandiFoil of America (HFA) provides Eco-Foil recycled-content foil steam table pans in several configurations for packaging, baking and preparing food products. Made from 100%- recycled/recyclable aluminum, the pans can save as much as 95% of the energy of virgin aluminum. The pans are formed on-press using aluminum comprising a combination of post-industrial and post-consumer recycled content, says Brad Sarnoff, executive vice president of sales. The percentage of post-consumer content can slightly vary, depending on the amount of post consumer scrap available.

“We have developed this concept with one of our suppliers and are the first to bring this to market,” he says. 

HandiFoil, a Wheeling, Ill.-based producer of foilware, roll foil, pop-up foil and aluminum containers for baking, packaging and food preparation, says that Eco-Foil aluminum containers can be recycled and used to produce new pans.

Tracking Enviro-Impact
Lime Energy, a Glendora, Calif., energy management company, helps bakers identify and develop energy-efficient systems as they relate to lighting, mechanical, heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and plumbing. The company accommodates larger, 50,000-sq.-ft.-plus businesses with multiple national facilities to roll out sustainable and cost-effective strategies.

Its UtilityTrac carbon footprint tracking software allows clients to understand their direct impact on the environment. This data also helps benchmark sustainability activity to determine how well a company is doing across the market, as well as internally among various plants/bakeries.

For example, Sara Lee has contracted to complete energy efficiency upgrades at 17 large, regional bakeries that are projected to pay for themselves in 2.7 years. The work includes installing new energy efficient lighting in baking operations, warehouses, offices and plant exteriors. These projects are set to reduce peak demand by 990 kw, enough to power 800 homes. Lime Energy reports that its efforts will reduce energy use by 8.1 million kw hours per year, the equivalent of permanently removing 933 passenger cars from the road. Lime Energy promises other environmental benefits, including a drop in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2) (believed to be a major cause of acid rain) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx), which causes smog and acid precipitation.

Sara Lee says there’s an energy savings for each project; the payback and return-on-investment range is between one and three years and 30% or better, according to Lime Energy.

Waterless Cleaning
TNN-Jeros Inc., Byron, Ill., offers the JEROS product line of cleaning and washing equipment that eliminates the consumption and cost of using water. Its 6015 waterless baking tray cleaning system was developed for wholesale and retail bakers as a replacement for traditional sheet pans and washing/greasing methods. The system cleans, straightens, oils and stacks trays at a rate of 12.5 to 17 per minute. It also eliminates costs associated with papering, pan greasing and pan straightening and washing, and is currently used at more than 5,000 bakeries throughout Europe.

Just launched in the United States, the standalone unit transports pans to the front of a production line using dollies. The pans are automatically oiled and stacked (100 12-gauge pans require only 8 in. of height) upon the dollies.

The 6015 also eliminates the effluent discharge of rinse water, a contributor to unwelcome biological oxygen demand (BOD) levels. Stack emissions from heating rinse water also are eliminated while solid waste generation is reduced by the elimination of pan papers. Jeros indicates that a return on the investment of this system can be achieved in months rather than years, based on labor and utility savings. The judges were impressed with the system, saying it’s an excellent sustainability example, especially for bakeries requiring trays to produce product.

Editor’s Note: For more information and details about the B.E.S.T. in Baking program, contact Janine Mlynarcik at

*Photos courtesy of Danisco