Millions of people across the world celebrated Earth Day yesterday (22 April) – a global initiative that aims to educate communities about environmental issues and take action to reduce humankind’s impact upon the planet.

End Plastic Pollution is the theme of Earth Day 2018. Plastic pollution is poisoning oceans, injuring marine life and affecting human health, according to the Earth Day Network, which is encouraging individuals and organisations to sign a pledge and reduce the amount of plastic they use.

The wider movement covers all aspects of environmental health including climate change and emissions, deforestation, biodiversity and waste.

Here’s a few ways bakeries, manufacturers and retailers are making a difference already:

Iceland plans to axe plastic bakery packaging

Bang on theme for Earth Day, Iceland has pledged to swap plastic packaging across its own-label bakery lines for paper-based material.

The plan, which is wider-reaching than just bakery, is a work in progress, with plastic removed from all own-label packaging by the end of 2023. For bakery, the retailer will mainly be exploring paper-based solutions and would look to use paper-compatible material, such as cellulose, in place of plastic products where shoppers needed to see what they were buying.

“There really is no excuse any more for excessive packaging that creates needless waste and damages our environment,” said Iceland MD Richard Walker. “The technologies and practicalities to create less environmentally harmful alternatives exist, so Iceland is putting a stake in the ground.”

Bakeries commit to cutting loaf surplus

Food waste is another big issue for the UK food and drink industry, with opportunities at all stages of the supply chain for better management of resources.

For bakers, particularly independent ones, loaf surplus is a key area to look at when it comes to reducing the amount of waste they produce. To tackle this, the Real Bread Campaign has created No Loaf Lost, designed to encourage small bakeries to reduce their surplus through a careful monitoring of waste and implementing a waste reduction plan. So far, 10 SME bakeries have pledged to reduce food waste at their sites and more than 125 copies of the plan have been downloaded.

Donating leftover bread and baked goods to charity presents another option. However, food safety is the number one concern and, as such, there are a number of rules and regulations governing donations. British Baker subscribers can find out more here.

Major players offer coffee cup discounts

They might not be made from plastic, but disposable coffee cups from the likes of Starbucks, Costa and Pret are gaining increasing attention from the media and consumers alike.

The nature in which their contents is often consumed makes them difficult to collect in bulk for recycling and the use of composite materials can be problematic when recycling them.

As a result, many coffee shop chains are pinning their hopes on reducing the use of disposable coffee cups by offering discounts to customers who bring their own reusable cups. The discount varies from retailer to retailer – it’s 25p at Starbucks and Costa and 20p at Greggs. Paul UK recently doubled the discount it gives customers to 50p, putting it on par with Pret.

Paul UK CEO Jean-Michel Orieux said he hoped the scheme would make a “significant difference”.

Creating dinner from bakery surplus

Eco pop-up Canteen No 4 teamed up with Gail’s Bakery to host The Waste Series – a four-course dinner created entirely from surplus food.

Held over two days at Gail’s Bakery in Fitzrovia, London, Canteen No.4’s chef created the dishes from bakery leftovers as well as those from local butchers, fishmongers and cheesemongers.

While a four-course dinner made from leftovers isn’t necessarily a practical everyday solution, it does provide inspiration for those operating a café or lunch/menu as part of their business. For example, leftover bread can be turned into a coating for chicken or fish, leftover croissant dough can be used as a pastry base for a tart, while biscuits can be used to create a cheesecake base.

Hovis goes green with all-electric lorries

Carbon emissions were on Hovis’ agenda this year as it introduced two all-electric lorries to its fleet to help the business prepare for a “lower carbon future”.

The battery-powered FUSO eCanter vehicles will be in use for an initial two-year period, during which they will be used to distribute goods across London and the surrounding areas.

As part of its effort to become more energy-efficient, Hovis said it had already removed two million-worth of road miles through improved vehicle routing and optimised road fill.