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Bimbo Canada is switching to recyclable and municipally compostable bread bag clips, one of many efforts to improve the environmental performance across all operations.Supplied

It may seem a small thing: the little plastic clip holding together your bag of bread. Yet when you consider the number of clips used in households across the country, you can imagine their cumulative impact.

In the quest to leave no stone unturned in finding opportunities to reduce its environmental footprint, Bimbo Canada is switching to recyclable and municipally compostable bread bag clips, “the first national bakery company in North America to make this change,” says Jeff Robertson, director, Environment & Sustainability, Bimbo Canada. “We’re excited about this innovative change. It comes without sacrificing quality or performance and without any net price increase for consumers.”

Since conventional polystyrene clips are too small for automatic recycling, they end up in landfills, where they take up to 500 years to decompose. Compare that to the new cardboard clips, which are made from 100 per cent recycled material and biodegrade in 84 days.

Teresa Schoonings, senior director, Sustainability, Bimbo Canada, suggests visualizing the impact by laying bread clips used annually in Canada side by side, with the resulting line stretching across the country – from Vancouver to St. John’s – and back. “That’s how much plastic we’ll remove from landfills: almost 200 metric tonnes,” she says, adding that the cardboard clips are produced by Quebec-based KLR Systems, which earned an innovation award.

To reduce reliance on polystyrene in its supply chain, Bimbo Canada works with a consortium of companies as part of the Canada Plastics Pact. “It’s the right thing to do, and that’s why we made these investments, including the switch to new packaging equipment for the new clips,” says Ms. Schoonings.

These efforts of Bimbo Canada are aligned with the strategic goals of its parent company Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest baking company with operations in 33 countries, says Mr. Robertson. “Our global strategy, which was launched in 2021, ensures every single business unit is working toward nourishing a better world, with environmental stewardship at the core.”

Bimbo Canada’s goals include achieving a 50 per cent drop in food waste plus reducing direct GHG emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050. This requires an “all-hands-on-deck approach,” he explains. “We’ve spent a lot of time establishing a organization-wide sustainability culture, where people understand what we’re trying to achieve and what their roles are.”

The company also turned to environmental consulting firm Enviro-Stewards to assess all 16 plants and four sales centres “to identify both low-hanging fruit, which can be tackled right away, and projects that require more time and investment,” Ms. Schoonings notes. For this work, Bimbo Canada and Enviro-Stewards won a Clean50 Top Project Award in 2021.

During that year, Bimbo Canada implemented 40 projects that are saving the equivalent of two million meals of food, enough water to fill 31 Olympic-sized swimming pools, enough electricity to power 209 Canadian homes and $700,000 per year in operating costs.

“We’ve done a tonne, but we continue to push to reduce our environmental impact,” she adds. “And we’re excited about that.”

Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications with Canada’s Clean50. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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