The fork hit a design plateau in Italy during the 1500s, that is, the design hasn’t changed much since then. Now there is farm to fork. The baking of bread has not reached a design plateau but rather companies are challenged to keep up with change. For example, the bread bag, which is an excellent design, protects the bread and is close and release. However, inks are no longer toxic, films are thinner and often recyclable, ties and locks are increasingly able to multi-task with information.

Even the company buyer of the bags may be changing. Where one individual may have made the decision in the past, now when companies buy anything from ingredients to equipment, they form teams. The trick is to get people on the teams that have technical knowledge of the subject and the end-user and some representation of those in-between. Too few people and issues are missed; too many people and decisions are made poorly. Salesmen need to reach new audiences.

From taxes to permits

One element during the last 10 years that may make or break a decision is the role of government from taxes to permits. This article will suggest some considerations for environmental permitting. Environmental permits usually are required for land, air and water use. Almost any new purchase that will make bakers and snack food manufacturers more efficient from ingredients to equipment should start a check for permit requirements. The responsible party for a permit is the owner or operator of the process, not the manufacturer of the product.

A new ingredient such as a new grain or coloring agent may impact waste water characteristics. The waste water permit requires that certain limits on certain characteristics be met. A new piece of equipment such as a pan washer may change the amount of water the operation uses. An additional pan washer might increase water use and change water billing and the discharge quantity. Replacement of a pan washer with a more efficient one might decrease water use but increase discharge concentrations over permit limits. Any materials stored or standing outside from waste bins to silos and storm drains are included in storm water permits. Yes, you need a permit just in case it might rain.

Air permits may be affected by changes in refrigerants, in production of yeast raised products, in date printer inks, and in installation of large pieces of equipment such as ovens. The use of aromatic ingredients such as cheese and garlic may require a permit for odor. Any modification of the production line should be evaluated for potential impact on the air permit. Purchase of more robust yeast that reduces the amount of yeast used may impact the air permit. The facility’s amount of volatile organic compound air emissions is based partially on the amount of yeast, the amount of fermentation time and the amount of baked product produced. When new equipment is installed asbestos rules will apply for survey, identification and disposal.

Dealing with disposal

Waste disposal is an activity with associated costs and regulations. Different wastes have different disposal requirements. Hazardous wastes such as some paints, lubricants, adhesives, light bulbs and cleaning solvents have proper disposal and record keeping requirements. Recyclables are defined by regulation. Food waste in a few places must be recycled. All outdoor waste storage must be covered to prevent rain from falling on the waste, a condition of the storm water permit.

Fleet requirements from truck washing to fueling and motor oil have prohibitions, permits or regulations for recordkeeping. New equipment probably means new rules and procedures.

Coordination is key

Permits vary at the local, county, state and federal levels. Most requirements become more strict at the most local level. Permit requirements change over time as local natural resource conditions change and as federal requirements change. What was done yesterday in Atlanta may not be the same as what is done today in Seattle. Coordination with the local fire department rules is necessary.

The White House has identified climate change and air regulations as a priority. The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) has water high on its regulatory action list. Conclusion: both air and water regulations will change during 2014.