Over the past few months, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery has offered a diverse look at how sustainability currently impacts the snack and bakery industries. A recent feature, “Maximizing energy efficiency in snack and bakery plants,” looks at variables that can impact the overall energy requirements of a snack processing facility or bakery. Another piece of the sustainability puzzle directly relates to the ingredients that comprise our foods. In “Consumer environmental concerns drive food processors toward sustainability,” we provide insight into prevailing perspectives on what sustainability means in terms of how core ingredients are grown and processed, and how packaging factors into the equation.

Asset sustainability is another concern, particularly for bakeries that regularly use plastic pallets, bakery trays and other reusable containers. In order to look further into this situation, we reached out to Brian Lindell, VP, beverage division, Rehrig Pacific Company, Los Angeles.

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Douglas J. Peckenpaugh: What is the scope of asset loss related to plastic pallets, bakery trays, beverage shells and other containers used in the snack food and bakery industries?

Brian Lindell: Estimated at $500 million annually among all industries.


DJP: Why are people stealing plastic pallets and containers?

BL: Material value. Products are stolen, ground and then sold to illegal recyclers.


DJP: Is this theft more common in select parts of the U.S.?

BL: It appears to be more prevalent in larger cities, but it does happen everywhere.


DJP: How can snack producers and bakeries help prevent these asset losses?

BL: By maintaining a tight system of recovery. Delivery personnel need to recover all empty pallets and containers when dropping off finished goods, and retailers need to hold empty pallets and containers in protected areas until the authorized delivery personnel recovers.


DJP: How can technological advances help prevent theft of these operational assets?

BL: Technology can help identify specifically where losses are occurring and provide specific evidence as proof.


DJP: What is COMBAT (Control of Missing Baskets and Trays), and how has it helped this situation?

BL: A multi-industry task force that was created in a region to reduce losses. There is no question these types of groups are effective in reducing losses and helping to uncover thieves. We need more of these across the US and Canada. Bringing greater awareness and communication to the problem is one of the most important tasks.