Focusing on environmental sustainability has become a hot topic for bakeries as consumers become more aware of the impact production has on the earth. Companies have many ways to show they are making bakery products while being mindful of the environment and the people who take it from farm to shelf. Tracie Sheehan, chief health, quality and sustainability officer for Aryzta, Los Angeles, said the most effective businesses embed key aspects of sustainability into their culture with metrics to hold people accountable.

For example, using less electricity is one such metric that is both good for the plant and for operating costs.

“We measure both the kilowatt hours per pound of food and the cost per pound each month to drive improvement at each location,” Ms. Sheehan said. “We have installed additional meters to reduce usage and use motion activated lighting when possible. We have a current project to investigate fuel cells for energy storage to reduce usage during peak hours, which benefits the bakery’s cost and also benefits the community.”

Associations like the American Bakers Association (A.B.A.) and the American Society of Baking (A.S.B.) are also encouraging their members to get involved. The A.B.A.’s first initiative was to partner with the Environmental Protection Agency on the voluntary Energy Star initiative for commercial bakeries. The A.B.A. asked bakers to take the Energy Star challenge and decrease their energy intensity by 10% in five years or less.

“The commercial baking industry now has the most individual facilities taking the Energy Star challenge,” said Rasma Zvaners, vice-president of regulatory and technical services, A.B.A.

To earn certification, these bakeries demonstrated a top level of energy efficiency by scoring a 75 or higher on the Energy Star Energy Performance Indicator (EPI) for Commercial Bread & Roll bakeries. Energy Star certification designates a plant, building, home or consumer product as being the most energy-efficient within its class. Certification is awarded annually to existing facilities based on their annual energy use. As of May 2017, the A.B.A. had 173 bakeries taking the challenge. Since 2016, 27 commercial bread and roll bakeries received certification Energy Star and 64 cookie and cracker facilities.

Sustainable energy is a win-win for bakeries looking to cut costs and improve a sustainable image. Campbell Soup Co. installed 25,000 solar panels that reduced electrical consumption by 15% at its soup manufacturing plant in Napoleon, Ohio. Likewise, two fuel cells combined with a 1 MW solar array have the capability of generating 100% of the electricity at its Pepperidge Farm plant in Bloomfield, Conn. Ms. Janga noted at the BEMA Summit that Campbell Soup Co. continues to evaluate and update its sustainability program as the business grows.

“Campbell’s business footprint has evolved over the past several years through a number of acquisitions,” said Sravani Janga, project engineer — environmental global engineering, Campbell Soup Co. “By analyzing external reporting trends, we decided to reset our enterprise sustainability goals to better reflect the Campbell we are today and to align with our Purpose: ‘Real Food that Matters for Life’s Moments.’”

Megan Maltenfort, senior manager of corporate social responsibility (C.S.R.), Campbell Soup Co., said the company also maintains relationships with partners and stakeholder groups by providing ongoing education sessions and general information sharing. For example, the corporate social responsibility team recently visited with a group of farmers in Maryland to discuss sustainable agriculture processes.

“Consumers care about where their food comes from and how it’s grown, and C.S.R. efforts help to increase transparency for consumers, which builds trust and helps consumers feel good about the food they are eating,” she said.

Aryzta coined the phrase “Aryzta Cares” to describe the overall approach to social responsibility and sustainability.

“We aspire to be viewed internally and externally as a socially responsible organization and to leverage our global resources to improve ethical, environmental and economic outcomes,” Ms. Sheehan said.

Aryzta has 11 bakeries in the Americas that have achieved zero-waste-to-landfill status, meaning all waste is recycled.

“We protect our environment through reducing electricity, gas and water and by increasing our recycling rate in our bakeries,” Ms. Sheehan said.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported recently that roughly one-third, about 1.3 billion tons, of the food produced globally for human consumption is lost to waste. The United States is a particularly large contributor to the problem with 133 billion lbs wasted annually.

RelatedClif Bar & Company is another industry leader in sustainability. With regard to environmental responsibility, Clif is committed to creating a healthy and sustainable food system and primarily sources organic ingredients for its food. Since 2003, Clif has sourced more than 750 million lbs of organic ingredients. It also supports organic research through university endowment and graduate fellowship programs.

“At Clif Bar & Company, we’re focused on next generation investments such as our organic research endowments, which provide university programs with funding to not only develop improved crop genetics (seeds) but also train future leaders in science, business and public policy,” said Thao Pham, vice-president of community and executive director of the Clif Bar Family Foundation.

The company’s mantra to “think like a tree” is scripted on a wall at Clif Bar’s headquarters. To spread this way of thinking across the industry this summer, Rich Berger, vice-president of engineering at Clif Bar, and the company donated 625 trees to be planted in the High Sierra Ranger District Restoration project.

“Trees run on renewable energy, recycle all waste, and sustain and improve the places they grow. Why can’t the work we do in the baking industry follow this vision?” asked Mr. Berger, who presented a case study on designing and building the Clif Bar Baking Company of Twin Falls facility in Twin Falls, Idaho, at BEMA’s annual convention.

There are plenty of other examples of large bakeries taking sustainability initiatives to the next level. The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, has established goals of becoming a zero-waste company by 2020 and achieve zero-food waste by 2025 in all stores and company-wide. The company also is joining forces with partners, including Feeding America and the World Wildlife Fund.

Flowers Foods, Thomasville, Ga., has already reached 66% of its 2020 goal to reduce manufacturing greenhouse gas emissions. It has cut emissions by almost 7% per tonne of product. Moreover, the company is within 1% of its goal to reach 90% zero-waste-to-landfill. By 2020, Flowers plans to reduce water use by 10% per tonne of product.

At CraftMark Bakery, the company prides itself on operating a zero-waste-to-landfill facility in Indianapolis, said Ahmad Hamade, c.e.o. of CraftMark Bakery, Indianapolis. The bakery was built with 25% recycled materials along with locally sourced structural resources. The building uses motion- and timer-based LED lighting to conserve energy.

As politics, regulations and food trends shift from year to year, sustainability remains constant. As baking companies and many others have shown, it’s imperative to join the movement.