pladis case study: Food Waste

24 February 2021

pladis has developed a relentless focus on cutting waste within its bakeries, engaging its nearly 4,000 expert bakers in coming up with solutions large and small that have all contributed to slashing waste by 13,000 tonnes and saving over 3,000 tonnes of CO2.


When pladis’ Road-to-Zero initiative began, waste levels were at a high 5.7% across its seven UK bakeries, with more than 22,000 tonnes of waste being created each year, costing the business £13m each year. At the time, improvements to the amount of waste being produced were limited and engagement among pladis’ people was low.

So, the ‘Road-to-Zero’ campaign was created to focus the minds of the nearly 4,000 bakers across pladis’ UK bakeries. Excellence Leads became the catalyst for change, and Waste Warriors were recruited driving activity across the sites. They established what was going on in reality and the opportunity presented by the issue by going to the ‘Gemba’, onto the lines to gain invaluable insight.

When the initiative launched, pladis created a common, simple language that everyone could use to identify the opportunities present to them: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. This simplicity helped to change behaviours and create a sense of personal commitment, and pladis have captured and championed those ideas through monthly and annual events, as well as via our internal social media platform, Workplace.

As a result of the over-500 waste saving ideas generated by colleagues, waste was slashed from 5.7% to 3%, equating to more than 13,000 tonnes of waste since the initiative began. Over 1 million lorry miles have been taken off the road, saving over 3,000 tonnes of CO2, and ultimately pladis has saved £5.5m. In addition to these successes, nearly 1,500 charities have benefited from donations of products to In Kind Direct, and through a collaboration with Company Shop, the UK's leading redistributor of food & household surplus products, they have redistributed surplus and broken products that would otherwise have been sent to landfill.

Over the last 2 years pladis have made great progress on this improvement journey, and with the foundations now in place their ambition to get to Zero is very much seen as ‘possible’, not ‘impossible’.

View Ambition 2025 Progress Report 2020

“Road-to-Zero has been the number one priority for our nearly 4,000 colleagues in our seven UK bakeries. We have established a great foundation of change and our teams have really engaged with shifting the ‘impossible’ to ‘possible’ mindset. Our ambition is zero waste and we won’t rest until we get there.”

Lee Nicholls

Vice President Supply Chain, pladis