This small bakery proactively pursued enviro-friendly packaging materials, taking the lead in the drive toward more corporate responsibility. Will larger bakeries follow suit?
Jennie Scheinbach, owner, Pattycake Bakery, Columbus, Ohio, recently converted the packaging on her wholesale cookies and whoopie pies to 100-percent biodegradeable materials.
Pattycake Bakery specializes in vegan baked products-a niche market with a customer following that strongly believes in sustainable practices. Still, a larger percentage of mainstream consumers are reportedly expecting consumer product goods manufacturers to be more conscientious of the environment.
“It was a founding principle of Pattycake's from our inception to do things as sustainably and ethically as possible,” Scheinbach says. “Our old petroleum-based packaging did not mesh with our brand and mission. I didn't just start Pattycake so I could make a livelihood; I started it so I could make money doing something I love with a net benefit to the community that supports me.”
The bakery uses 100-percent compostable bags called Terraphane™ produced by Atlapac, which are formed from a roll of flat cellulose-based film called NatureFlex™.
The bags Scheinbach is buying are truly compostable, says Paul Unrue, vice president, business development, Atlapac Corp., Columbus. They will literally disappear in 90 days. Although the bags cost 40 to 50 percent more, which is significant, “you're leaving a smaller carbon footprint, no doubt in my mind,” Unrue adds.
Because the cellulose film can disappear quickly if not handled properly, it is important for any baker to determine whether its product has the fitness to withstand shelf life. Unrue recommends accelerated shelf life testing and ship testing to verify its viability.
Printing is done by Weisenbach Recycled Products, also in Columbus, which uses soy-based ink that emits far fewer volatile organic carbons (VOCs)-a parameter the EPA uses to monitor pollution. Although soy-based inks cost more, operators can use smaller amounts than petroleum-based inks and still achieve similar functionality and quality, says Dan Weisenbach, president.
Weisenbach follows a triple-bottom line green business philosophy that considers people, profit and planet. “To be sustainable, we all have to earn money to keep our doors open, but a successful company also concerns itself with its employees, the community and the environment. At the end of the day, you know you've done some good,” Weisenbach says.
The process of switching from conventional to green materials was not without its challenges. “The cost was definitely an issue,” Scheinbach says. In the end, the environmentally-friendly packaging not only meshes with her bakery's mission and values, but satisfies her customers.
“I'd like to encourage and challenge other bakeries to make their packaging greener,” Scheinbach says. “In this day and age, it's doable and worth it, as customers respond to green practices with increased purchases and loyalty.”