How to Reduce Bakery Waste

Baked croissants on shelf window

One of the significant challenges bakery owners face is managing waste. Not only is excessive waste bad for the environment, but it also cuts into profits due to increased waste collection costs.

In this article, we’ll explore practical strategies for reducing bakery waste, helping you save money and contribute to a more sustainable business.

Table of Contents

Accurately Forecast Your Bakery’s Demand

Accurately predicting customer demand is crucial for minimising waste. Use sales data to identify patterns and trends. Consider factors like holidays, weather, and local events, which can significantly impact demand.

Implementing a Pre-Order System

Encouraging customers to pre-order their baked goods can help you prepare the right amount. This reduces the likelihood of overproduction and ensures that you’re making what your customers want.

Have Efficient Inventory Management

Use a First-In, First-Out (FIFO) System

Implement the FIFO method to ensure older ingredients are used first. This reduces the chance of ingredients expiring before they are used, minimising waste.

Conduct Regular Inventory Audits at Your Bakery

Conduct regular inventory checks to keep track of stock levels and expiry dates. This helps you make informed purchasing decisions and avoid overordering.

Woman taking inventory stock check in a bakery

Consider Creative Repurposing of Unsold Baked Goods

Partner with local charities and food banks to donate unsold but still fresh products. This not only reduces waste but also supports your community.

Transform Leftovers

Get creative with leftovers. For example, day-old bread can be used to make croutons, breadcrumbs, or bread pudding. Pastries can be repurposed into delicious new treats, reducing the amount of waste and expanding your product range.

You could provide the croutons or breadcrumbs to local restaurants.

Close up of croutons

Implement Sustainable Packaging

Using Recyclable and Biodegradable Packaging for Baked Goods

Switch to packaging materials that are recyclable or biodegradable. This reduces the environmental impact of your waste and can appeal to eco-conscious customers.

Encourage the Use of Reusable Containers

Offer incentives for customers who bring their own containers for take-out items. This not only reduces packaging waste but also fosters a loyal customer base.

You can even provide branded reusable containers similar to how Starbucks provide refillable cups.

Three Starbucks reusable cups

Composting and Recycling for Bakeries

Set Up a Composting System

Establish a composting system for organic waste like egg shells, fruit peels, and coffee grounds. Composting reduces the volume of waste sent to landfills and provides nutrient-rich material for gardening.

Recycle Non-Organic Bakery Waste

Ensure that your bakery has a robust recycling program for paper, cardboard, and other recyclable materials. Educate your staff on proper recycling practices to maximise efficiency.

Monitor and Continuously Improve

Track Your Bakery’s Waste

Keep a record of your waste to identify areas for improvement. Use this data to set waste reduction targets and monitor your progress.

Train Your Staff

Educate your staff on the importance of waste reduction and provide training on best practices. Encourage a culture of sustainability within your bakery.

Bakery staff member holding loafs of bread wrapped in plastic


Reducing bakery waste is not only beneficial for the environment but also for your bottom line. By implementing these strategies, you can decrease waste collection costs and enhance your bakery’s reputation as a sustainable business.

Start with small changes and gradually integrate more comprehensive practices to see a significant impact over time. Remember, every step towards reducing waste is a step towards a more sustainable future for your bakery.

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