Mile Hi puts sustainability first

by Joanie Spencer
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Mile Hi is considered a sustainability leader for McDonald's.

DENVER — When Denver-based Mile Hi Bakery started up its newest facility in 2013, it was the first McDonald’s bakery to become LEED Gold certified. Three years later, Mile Hi still seeks out sustainability improvements to maintain its Gold level and act as a beacon for other bakeries across the country and around the world.

“The muffin line was designed to save energy,” said Tony Taddonio, president of Mile Hi Bakery.

On the griddle, “super burners” designed by Sugden lowered gas consumption by about half; the griddle’s 23 burners do the work that typically requires 60.

“When we installed the muffin line, we brought in heat recovery,” Mr. Taddonio said. “With this line, we’ve reduced our total overall emissions in the plant.”

The bakery’s cornmeal reclaim unit from Campbell Systems also aids in sustainability with the added benefit of providing a more comfortable working environment.

“We have been able to reduce the amount of waste on the cornmeal as well as reclaim it for the divider,” Mr. Taddonio said.

When the excess cornmeal is vacuumed off and recycled back in a continuous loop, it reduces not only the amount of wasted cornmeal but also the dust that would otherwise float around the plant and onto the floor.

“We condensed it and controlled it, and it’s made our air quality much better and reduced potential cross-contamination of cornmeal on the bun line,” he added.

Additions such as these maintain Mile Hi Bakery’s reputation as a sustainability leader for McDonald’s, specifically the McDonald’s Bakery Council, which consists of 13 bakeries.

“We hosted the entire council to come in and see our facility and learn about our sustainability and LEED Gold initiatives,” said Kristy Taddonio Mullins, ¬president of Mile Hi Companies.

Bakers from as far away as Australia also have come to learn sustainability best practices from Mile Hi as well as suppliers such as AMF and Stewart Systems, which provided equipment on the bakery’s bun line.

“I’ve had a few environmental science classes come through to view the bakery, as well,” said Toni Marie Taddonio Brenzikofer, bakery relationship manager for Mile Hi Bakery and president of the Mile Hi Foundation. “Those students find it absolutely amazing. The idea of manufacturing eludes them, but seeing a mass scale of production combined with environmental practice is a great learning opportunity.”

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