How To Start A Waste Free Bakery In The USA

waste free bakery

Do you know how much food waste Americans generate every year? While globally 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted annually, the US is the highest contributor with nearly 80 billion pounds of discarded food. It comes to be around 40% of the county’s food supply and equates to per capita food wastage of close to 250 pounds a year.

Most of these wastes end up in landfills, making up 22% of the county’s solid waste and becoming the single most significant component in US landfills. But the good news is that many US states have already started taking actions that encourage or force businesses to curb food wastage. Controlling food wastage in the US will be difficult and will take time.

The scenario of food wastage is no different in the US bakery industry, where 32% of the bread goes uneaten to ends up in the trash every year. 

However, many bakers are now finding creative ways to use the leftovers besides creating customer awareness and making operational modifications to reduce waste. The concept of a waste-free bakery is one of the upcoming trends in this industry.

What Is A Waste-Free Bakery?

A waste-free bakery refers to any regular bakery that intends to eliminate or at least control the food wastes coming out of the food establishment. To set up a waste-free bakery, you need to make a few subtle changes to your approach and operating style. These modifications can include maintaining optimal inventory, changing meal portions to reduce leftovers, reducing wastage during cooking, etc. It positively impacts the company’s bottom line and cuts down on environmental hazards. Hence, a waste-free bakery has gained popularity as a business concept due to its financial and ecological benefits.

Things To Know To Start A Waste-Free Bakery In The USA

So, there is no doubt that it is the perfect time to start a waste-free bakery in the USA. However, setting up a food establishment in any country is not easy, and the US is not an exception. So, here is a checklist (not exhaustive) of things that you must know to start a waste-free bakery in the USA.

Write A Business Plan

It is the first step that you take to set up your food establishment. A strong business plan provides you with the structure required to organize your ideas, goals, financial objectives, and operational setup. A business plan usually contains an executive summary, market analysis, product details, marketing & sales strategy, and financial plan & projections. 

Find The Right Location

The selection of the right location is another vital factor for a successful food service business. In the case of a bakery with a storefront, you need a commercial space in a prime location with plenty of room and sufficient footfall. In contrast, you can set up a counter-only bakery in a much smaller space at a relatively inaccessible location. Nevertheless, you should also consider the location’s demographics, competition, proximity to suppliers, and crime rate.

Obtain The Permits And Licenses

The US foodservice industry is highly regulated at different levels. So, you need to get several licenses and permits depending on the type of food establishment you are setting up and its location.

Employer Identification Number

 Employer Identification Number (EIN) is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is required while applying for any license, permit, or filing any other paperwork within the state. It is analogous to an individual’s social security number.

Business License

The US government issues it, allowing you to run a business legally within a city or a state. The process of application may vary depending on your location. You can get the specific rules for any region from the US Small Business Administration (SBA) ‘s website. Although the cost of obtaining a business license is around $50 per application, there are additional costs associated with an application that can go up to $7,000.

Food Service License

You will also need a food service license issued by the state health department. In many US states, the food license types vary depending on the establishment types. So, you can check the state-specific regulations at the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) and obtain a food service license. The average cost of a food service license falls in the range of $100 to $1,000.

Plan Waste-Free Operations

It is one of the important steps in establishing a waste-free bakery. Everything should be aligned to the objective of zero to minimize waste from the kitchen activities to the menu served to the customers. To achieve the desired outcome, you need to implement the measures mentioned below.

  • Instead of tossing away the unsold food, consider donating them to the local food banks. It will lower your environmental footprint and support the underprivileged community.
  • Explore creative ways to use the leftovers as ingredients for other food items, such as cutting and mixing unsold brownies into ice cream.
  • Reduce or eliminate the usage of single-use items, such as plastic cups, plastic straws, etc. It can cut down both wastage and operating costs.
  • Enroll with the local recycling programs to ensure that the bakery’s recyclable items, like aluminum cans, don’t add to the environmental hazard.

Promote The Bakery

Next, you need to promote the bakery and market its concept of being waste-free. In other words, ensure that your potential customers learn about the core principle of your bakery. You can consider posting blogs and pictures of the waste-free operations on various social media platforms like InstagramFacebook, and Twitter. Also, create a website providing all the basic information about your bakery.

Invest In Technology

Finally, you should invest in a good bakery POS system, which will allow you to focus on the core business operations. In this way, you can run the bakery efficiently as well as profitably. An efficient POS system’s key features include system-based order booking, better control of inventory, real-time analytics & reports, and an integrated CRM database.

So, you can see a growing awareness of food waste in the food service industry in the US. It can serve as the perfect opportunity if you are planning to start a waste-free bakery in this country. It won’t be an easy task. But you can set up a waste-free bakery in the USA if you plan correctly and follow the steps mentioned above in a disciplined manner.


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Daniel McCarthy is a seasoned restaurant consultant and serves as the Communication Manager at Restroworks, a prominent F&B SaaS company. Drawing from his vast knowledge of leveraging innovative technological solutions, Daniel excels at enhancing restaurant operations and revenue, thereby contributing to the ongoing transformation of the industry.


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