Case study – La Madre Bakery

26 Aug 2011

Last year, La Madre Bakery got the nod from the Carbon Reduction Institute for creating a carbon neutral hot cross bun, the first of its kind in Australia. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work by co‐owners Anna Spurling and Tez Kemp, yet it all began with a simple philosophy: “Ensure that all of our business and baking practices are as sustainable as they can be”.

Like every business on a sustainable journey, La Madre Bakery encountered challenges, especially with its core business relying on energy‐intensive electric ovens and a distribution network of fuelintensive vehicles. However, with knowledge on their side (Anna is studying a Diploma of Sustainability), and a little help from sustainable programs like Grow Me The Money, Anna and Tez reviewed their business and its greenhouse gas emissions then made some simple ‐ and some more radical – changes.

These include:

  • Switching to 50 per cent Green Energy
  • Eliminating plastic bags and using degradable plastic bags for wholesale orders
  • Joining the Transition Suburb Bell programme to support local food and the economy
  • Dedicating pages on its website to communicate environmental sustainability aims, achievements and challenges
  • Eliminating paper statements by switching 90% of customers to electronic statements to run an almost paperless office. Paper that is used is post‐consumer recycled paper.
  • Installing a heat shifter that extracts warm air from the production facility and shifts it to heat the office and shop in the cooler months. It has the added benefit of smelling like freshly baked bread!
  • Using a rainwater tank to flush low water usage toilets and to service the laundry
  • Using friendly signs reminding staff to turn off lights and taps. When they forget, the sensors turn them off automatically. Using solar hot water
  • Painting the entire building in low VOC paints, with additional insulation plus double‐glazed windows
  • Introducing double‐sided printing 
  • Introducing purchasing guidelines to always ask for the more environmentally friendly option – recycled paper, recycled plastics and cellulose bags for packaging bread. La Madre Bakery’s new bread labels are now printed on a Tree Free stock (made from bamboo) and even the backing paper is recyclable!

Some of the changes implemented required much more time and effort than others, but Anna and Tez view them as investments and describe their sustainable journey as the path to a more efficientway of doing business.

“The entire process has been tremendously beneficial for our business in terms of really analysing what we do and asking ourselves if there is a better, more environmentally beneficial way of doing things. “

“Longer term we hope that the return on investment in our new wholesale plant provides us the financial benefits, but also that our wholesale customers (existing and potential) see the benefits in working with a supplier with the credentials that we are trying to build for ourselves.”

To hear more of La Madre’s story, Anna will be speaking on the 30th August in Geelong at VECCI’s Manufacturing Forum for SMEs. Registrations are free, email training@vecci.org.au 

 

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