As the busy shopping season gets underway with extreme volumes, plugged store back rooms and inexperienced seasonal employees, Bakers Basco reminds UK supermarkets to ensure that reusable packaging does not inadvertently end up in the waste stream. That’s also good advice for retailers in other parts of the world.
United Kingdom – December 2020 – Supermarkets and grocery stores could be reversing the positive contribution they are making in trying to protect the environment by overlooking an important part of their waste management process at Recycling & Reclamation Units (RRU) across the UK. This is of particular importance as they enter their busiest festive season, with an anticipated spike in food sales putting extra pressure on the supply chain.
The warning comes from Bakers Basco, a bakery equipment supplier which was set up by five of the UK’s biggest plant bakers to manage an industry-wide bakery reusable equipment solution for transporting bread and other morning goods safely and efficiently across the country every day.
Following the recent government announcement that up to three households will be allowed to gather over the festive period, families across the UK are now preparing for their Christmas food shop and many supermarkets have already released Christmas delivery slots to assure families that their turkey is on the way. But this also means that the demand for safe, secure, and efficient transit packaging hits an all-year high in December.
Returnable and reusable transit packaging (RTP) and equipment is a key business and environmental asset, but unfortunately, a huge amount goes missing each year. Bakers Basco equipment, which carries an embossed label stating who the owner is, is designed to be reused again and again for a life span of up to 10 years and is then recycled once it has come to the end of its useful life.
In recent years, significant amounts of equipment have been returned to RRU’s of many supermarkets, grocery stores, petrol stations, and local/convenience shops across the UK and as a consequence mistakenly end up at recycling operations to be chipped, due to the “perception that it has no value”, according to Paul Empson, GM for Bakers Basco.
“This is a common problem across many areas of the food supply chain and we need to drive awareness about this equipment: Yes, it’s got value. Yes, it’s designed to be environmentally-friendly, and yes, it has an owner,” says Empson. “We need to raise awareness of this amongst workers at these RRU sites so they understand this and know that all they have to do is give us a call, and Bakers Basco will come and collect it for free.”
“We can appreciate that the process that goes on behind the scenes to sort, process, and return “waste” from RRU’s is no mean feat,” adds Empson. “When they are in full swing – especially at particularly busy times of the year, such as Christmas which is about to hit its peak – the turnaround is so quick that often this equipment gets put to one side and workers simply just don’t know what to do with them, therefore it becomes less of a priority. But this isn’t waste, it has a value and it belongs to someone.”
The Bakers Basco’s team has built up strong relationships with a significant number of these locations in order to educate on this ongoing issue through visiting and distributing posters with a telephone number and information on what to do if such equipment is found at these sites to help raise awareness. Yet there are still other areas of the industry that are lacking awareness of the value of this equipment to both Basco and their own supply chains.
The right kind of plastic products, used in the right way, can majorly contribute to solving the plastic problem while helping companies cut costs and improve margins through their use in the ‘circular economy’, where things are built to last and can easily be recycled and the raw materials reused when they reach the end of their life.
Bakers Basco manages a pool of circa four million baskets and dollies throughout the UK, benefitting members such as Fine Lady Bakeries, Warburtons, Hovis, Allied Bakeries and Frank Roberts. As such, they are an essential part in the transportation of millions of bakery products to retailers.