As one of the largest producers of packaged bakery foods in the United States, we go beyond environmental compliance, implementing more-sustainable practices across our operations to minimize or prevent waste of water, packaging, energy, fuel, and other resources — because it’s the right thing to do for all our stakeholders.
Our 2030 Environmental Goals
As part of our recent comprehensive review and refresh of our Corporate Responsibility program, in 2022, we reevaluated and updated our existing environmental sustainability goals to build upon our successes and further challenge ourselves in areas where we expect to make additional progress.
-20%Reduce greenhouse gas emissions (scopes 1 and 2) 20% per metric ton of product off a 2020 baseline
-10%Reduce water use 10% per metric ton of product off a 2020 baseline
98%Achieve zero waste to landfill (98% or greater diversion) company-wide
100%Source 100% Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)-certified palm oil for all cake products
100%Maintain 100% RSPO Supply Chain Certification for all cake bakeries
90%Maintain at least 90% of packaging as recyclable, reusable, or compostable
30%Maintain at least 30% of recycled materials in packaging
Climate & Energy
In our bakeries, we seek to reduce emissions through a combination of energy awareness and efficiency upgrades at all our bakeries. Our comprehensive energy strategy, and its three main components – Track, Integrate, Share – guide our efforts.
As a result of our efforts, in 2021 and 2022, we met and exceeded our previous GHG reduction goal to reduce emissions by 20% off a 2015 baseline. We have since increased our goal to reduce GHG emissions 20% per metric ton of product by 2030 off a 2020 baseline
We use an online energy management program to track energy use and emissions at all our facilities – bakeries, distribution centers, and warehouses. Any unusual change in energy consumption triggers an alert, notifying the facility’s management.
We improve energy efficiency by incorporating energy-saving measures when upgrading equipment, installing new production lines, or designing new projects.
We want our team to be energy smart. We regularly communicate best practices from around the company and celebrate energy successes with the entire Flowers team.
“As a result of our efforts, in 2021 and 2022, we met and exceeded our previous GHG reduction goal to reduce emissions by 20% off a 2015 baseline. We have since increased our goal to reduce GHG emissions 20% per metric ton of product by 2030 off a 2020 baseline.”
As we invest in our operations – whether it’s new bakeries, production lines, or upgrades to existing equipment – sustainability is integral to the design process. Three major areas of focus are compressed air systems, lighting, and heat recovery.
This focus is making a difference. Our bakery in Batesville, Arkansas, was recognized in 2022 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Better Plants program for its energy efficiency projects, which have reduced annual energy use by more 13,000 MMBtu – the equivalent of powering nearly 250 homes per year. The success at this bakery has made it a model for others in our network.
Compressed air is vital to many phases of bakery production processes, and we continue to upgrade our compressed air systems to reduce energy use.
Based on energy assessments conducted in partnership with the DOE and its Industrial Assessment Centers, we made air compressor upgrades in 2022 at three bakeries. Upgrades involved installing systems with variable frequency drives, redesigning piping and air nozzles, and repairing air leaks. Additionally, approximately three-quarters of our bakeries now have their own air leak detection tools to facilitate efficient ongoing performance.
A large part of reducing our energy footprint is upgrading lighting in our facilities. In 2022, we continued to transition to LED lighting at various locations across our bakery and warehouse network. The new LED fixtures reduce energy use and offer the added benefits of improving lighting levels and reducing heat emission.
By capturing waste heat from our ovens instead of releasing it into the air, we can reuse it to heat ingredient tanks, pipe jackets, proof boxes, and the water that washes baskets used in the production process.
Currently, 20 percent of our bakery network employs heat recovery systems.
For example, our bakery in Lewiston, Maine, uses heat generated by ovens and oxidizers to heat water and warm the building during the winter, saving approximately 217 metric tons of CO2e annually. In 2022, our bakery in Mesa installed a new proof box that uses waste heat, and we implemented additional heat recovery projects in Henderson, Nevada, and El Paso, Texas.
Flowers is committed to incorporating sustainability initiatives into planned capital projects. In 2022, to better serve the West Coast market, we completed a new production line at our Henderson, Nevada, bakery to increase capacity for our Dave’s Killer Bread products. Sustainability was top of mind during the planning and execution of the project, resulting in the following key features:
- Heat recovery: Henderson boasts the most advanced heat recovery system in our network. Recovered heat keeps ingredients like honey warm, eliminating the need for traditional electric warming systems, and heats water for the tray washer.
- Compressed air: We installed efficient variable frequency drive (VFD) air compressors.
- Water: Henderson is in a high-stress water location so we attempt to minimize water use in our production and sanitation processes wherever possible. The tray washer recirculates water to minimize use, and the refrigeration system and air compressor are air-cooled instead of water-cooled.
- Lighting: We installed nearly 200 LED lights, which reduce energy usage by about 50% compared to standard bulbs and generate much less heat. Each LED is governed by a sensor that automatically turns the bulb on and off based on movement.
Partnerships & Recognition
Energy Star Certification
Thirteen Flowers bakeries were recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2022 as ENERGY STAR-certified facilities. To receive ENERGY STAR certification, bakeries must score in the top 25 percent of all U.S. commercial bread and roll bakeries for energy efficiency and meet strict energy efficiency performance levels set by the EPA.
More than half of the facilities honored have achieved this recognition at least six times.
These are the Flowers bakeries that earned ENERGY STAR certification in 2022:
- Flowers Baking Co. of Tolleson (AZ)
- Flowers Baking Co. of El Paso (TX)*
- Flowers Baking Co. of Norfolk (VA)*
- Mesa Organic Baking Co. (AZ)*
- Flowers Baking Co. of Henderson (NV)*
- Dave’s Killer Bread (OR)*
- Flowers Baking Co. of New Orleans (LA)*
- Flowers Baking Co. of Tyler (TX)
- Lynchburg Organic Baking (VA)*
Flowers Baking Co. of Houston (TX)
- Flowers Baking Co. of Batesville (AR)
- Tuscaloosa Organic Baking Co. (AL)
Lepage Bakeries – Park Street (ME)
*Scored in the top 10% of U.S. commercial bread and roll bakeries.
Since 2019, Flowers has been a member of the DOE’s Better Plants Program. This voluntary public-private partnership helps manufacturers set long-term efficiency goals, by providing technical assistance, tools, and networking opportunities to help companies meet energy goals.
CASE STUDY: DIAGNOSTIC EQUIPMENT PROGRAM
In 2022, our Miami bakery joined other Flowers facilities in taking advantage of the DOE Better Plants Diagnostic Equipment Program (DEP) to identify and analyze energy leaks and improve equipment performance.
Borrowing an ultrasonic leak detector, the bakery identified and repaired almost 30 leaks in its compressed air system. The process highlighted our ability to benefit our shareholders and the environment simultaneously, saving more than $5,500 in annual energy costs, while eliminating more than 62,000 kilowatt hours of annual energy consumption and approximately 44 metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
We are a proud participant in Walmart’s Project Gigaton, which aims to reduce or avoid emissions in the global value chain by 1 billion metric tons — a gigaton — by 2030.
Through our direct-store delivery (DSD) network, Flowers ships fresh goods from bakeries to warehouses where they are picked up by independent distributor partners for delivery to retail and food service customers. Our sustainability and logistics teams look for ways to reduce the carbon footprint where possible.
In 2021, we consolidated our delivering days from 5-day to 4-day distribution at nearly 100 Flowers warehouses, eliminating trucks on the road one day per week.
In 2022, we implemented a new procurement system that gives us greater insight into transportation costs and efficiencies. With this data, we will seek additional opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of our operations by consolidating routes, reducing mileage, and consuming less fuel.
Flowers continues to capitalize on existing backhauls to reduce mileage. Backhauls are the return trips of trucks to the bakeries after a delivery. For example, when we deliver products to the West Coast, we use the return trip to transport ingredients back to our bakeries on the East Coast. We also use backhauls to transport sales displays, pallets, and trays.
Using backhauls to transport additional materials avoids fuel waste and improves operational efficiency. By maximizing our existing transport, we reduce costs and environmental impact.
Water stewardship is not only important to our business, it’s a responsibility to our communities that we take very seriously. Water is essential to our baking processes as an ingredient and for sanitation. The majority of the water our bakeries use is consumed in production and not discharged as wastewater.
Our water strategy employs internal and external resources and expertise to facilitate improvements in water stewardship within the company’s operations and supply chain.
While we always strive to use water responsibly, usage levels have increased the last two years due to more stringent sanitation standards and water leaks. To help identify leaks more quickly in the future, we are investing in on-site metering (see next page), and to reduce the amount of water used in our cleaning practices, we are adding steam cleaners that use 99% less water than a traditional hose.
Flowers’ bakeries depend on water as an ingredient and for cleaning. We have identified bakeries with high water risks and are taking action to mitigate those risks.
Flowers has identified bakeries in areas with high water risks and takes action to mitigate those risks. We evaluate current and potential water availability at bakery locations using the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Global Water Tool (WBSCD), the World Resources Institute (WRI) Aqueduct, and a third-party consultant. In 2021, Flowers updated its risk assessment using GIS software and WRI Aqueduct’s latest data set. Manufacturing facilities in areas of high water stress had 1) a WRI risk score of 2 or higher for “Overall External Risk Rating” for both current and projected risks and 2) accounted for 2% or more of companywide production.
Some bakeries take on-site meter readings to monitor water use more frequently and verify utility invoices. In 2022, we added water meters throughout the production process to monitor usage at our bakery in San Antonio, which is in one of the higher risk water areas in our network. This initiative will expand to additional locations in 2023.
In 2022, Flowers identified 2 bakeries with high water risk: Flowers Baking Co. of Denton (Tx.) and Holsum Bakery of Tolleson (Az.)
These two manufacturing locations comprised 7% of Flowers total water withdrawals in 2022.
There are limited opportunities to reuse water in baking processes while maintaining our high standard for food safety. When possible, however, we reuse water for equipment that does not come into direct contact with food products, such as cooling towers.
Flowers is also exploring ways to use our expanded water metering capabilities to improve tracking and help quantify water reuse.
Increased production volumes naturally lead to greater water use, but it’s our priority to use it wisely and conserve it wherever possible. Flowers shares best practices through multiple internal communications platforms. We believe communicating successes across our network is key to maximizing conservation.
Since 2016, Flowers has participated in the annual CDP Water Program, a public disclosure of the company’s water use that provides insight for investors, customers, non-governmental organizations, and others interested in how we manage water risks. CDP is a global environmental impact non-profit, providing a platform for all companies to report information on their climate, water, and deforestation impacts.
As a CDP Supply Chain member, we asked our ingredient suppliers to respond to the CDP Water Program in 2022.These suppliers represent more than 75% of Flowers’ annual ingredient spend. We are using this information to better understand potential water risks in our supply chain. For example, wheat and sugar are two key commodities required for the manufacture of most Flowers products, so we analyze water risks across the majority of our wheat- and sugar-growing regions.
Waste & Recycling
While many companies outsource waste and recycling management to third parties, Flowers has our own in-house waste services team, which manages all services and invoices and oversees data tracking and project improvement. This provides greater internal collaboration and transparency within our waste and recycling program. Since establishing our Waste Services team in 2018, we have gained insight into waste at our bakeries, warehouses, and thrift stores, improving our diversion rate.
Flowers’ Waste Services team provides the following waste/recycling support to our bakeries:
- Virtual dumpster surveys
- Site-specific best practices and solutions
- On-demand training on material handling
- Equipment technical support
- Reporting of waste streams and costs
Food Waste Initiatives
Our bakeries and warehouses are moving on many fronts to reduce food waste in the manufacturing process and divert it from landfills, including donating to food banks and repurposing scrap as animal feed. Additionally, food grade oil is recycled for biodiesel.
Production line scrap is one of the greatest areas of opportunity in our bakeries. Examples include discarded dough and product that falls off the line. All our bakeries have scrap reduction goals, which are regularly reported and communicated within the bakery and to operations leadership. Reducing scrap was a major focus in 2022 and is continuing into 2023 and beyond. Our bakery in Jamestown, North Carolina, for example, reduced its scrap by 30% in 2022 compared to the prior year.
Capabilities offered by our Bakery of the Future program allow bakeries to more effectively monitor and reduce scrap through new digital tools that ensure production lines are running properly.
Bakery of The Future
In December 2022, our San Antonio bakery became the 13th in the Flowers network to go live as a Bakery of the Future (BOF), capping an eventful year in the digital transformation of our supply chain.
At the beginning of the year, only two pilot bakeries in the Flowers network were live with BOF, which provides real-time reporting of conditions from bakery production lines. Data is displayed in dashboards on bakery monitors and accessible to managers through individual workstations.
While we focus on reducing scrap throughout the production process, we also seek ways to ensure scrap material is repurposed whenever possible. All of our bakeries coordinate with food recovery recycling partners to integrate food waste byproduct into grain for animal feed.
Flowers is a partner in the Waste Reduction Network, a program under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Plants Program to help companies set, track, and meet waste reduction goals.
We joined the pilot program in 2020, and in 2022, the network continued its work toward measuring and reducing food waste that goes to landfills.
Since September 2020, Flowers has been a supplier in the 10x20x30 Food Waste Reduction Initiative, which brings together 10+ of the world’s largest food retailers and providers, each engaging at least 20 suppliers to halve food loss and waste by 2030. The program offers training and technical assistance to help suppliers reduce food loss and waste in their operations.
At our warehouses and thrift stores, viable packaged product nearing or at its shelf-life is collected and donated to local hunger-relief organizations.
Expanding what and how we recycle is central to our overall waste reduction strategy. Flowers conducts site assessments in our bakeries to identify potential recycling savings and improvements. As a result, in 2022 we invested in more equipment, such as balers and compactors, to improve waste reduction efforts at several bakeries. Compactors make hauling waste material more efficient and balers are critical in ensuring recyclable material is appropriately segregated for recycling.
At more than half of our bakeries, we operate compactor monitors, which automatically notify waste haulers when a pickup is needed. These monitors provide actionable data and maximize container capacity to reduce the number of hauls.
Recycling of batteries and printer cartridges has been expanded to all of our locations. These initiatives provide containers with pre-paid shipping labels. Once containers are filled and properly packaged, they are mailed to the vendor for recycling. Additionally, every bakery has designated containers for recycling confidential documents that have been shredded.
In addition to using backhauls to reduce miles driven, some Flowers warehouses and distribution centers utilize existing relays to return cardboard and stale product to central locations for collection and baling. At high-volume warehouses and distribution centers, we have bulk collection systems for both cardboard and stale product retrieved from the market.
Since 2019, Flowers has explored options to reduce waste sent to landfill by partnering with energy producers to convert waste that remains after recycling into energy. Six of our bakeries participate in waste-to-energy projects. Two Florida-based bakeries work with a manufacturer of clean alternative fuels to convert waste into energy cubes that fuel incineration for concrete manufacturers. Our California bakery and three others in the Northeast work with third parties who convert the waste into electricity for homes and businesses.
Over 90% of our total product packaging is recyclable. Today, many packaging items, such as bread polyethylene bread bags, paperboard and corrugated packaging, are made of 100% recyclable materials. Over the years, we have rightsized and down-gauged product bags in an effort to use less material, and we continue to explore other avenues to reduce material consumption.
To manage obsolete packaging at bakeries, our Waste Services team works with regional recyclers to schedule bulk pickups. Where recycling is not available nearby, we leverage relationships near other Flowers locations and use backhauls to transport the material to areas with access to recycling services. For example, in 2022, federal regulations necessitated updated ingredient labeling to align with new allergen guidelines. Our Waste Services team supported our bakery network by recycling more than 200 tons of packaging, keeping it out of local landfills.
Since 2018, Flowers’ bakeries have maintained Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Supply Chain Certification, building upon our pledge to source 100% RSPO-certified palm oil. Our cake bakeries are audited every five years to ensure ongoing compliance. Read more about our commitment to Responsible Sourcing.