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Josh Allen, Companion Baking

Sustainability Tiptree World Bread Awards Hero USA supported by IBIE

Josh Allen started Companion Baking in St. Louis in 1993 at the age of 24. His vision was clear and concise: create wholesome and delicious European breads with simple ingredients.

Starting with just six breads in its product line, Companion’s award-winning bread is now served in more than 400 restaurants, grocery stores, and businesses around the Midwest and across the country. Josh was astounded however when he discovered that his bakery generated so much waste - over 1.5 million pounds a year!

“At Companion Baking, we have focused on reducing food waste at our factory for the past 40 months,” says Josh. “When we first moved into our new facility in late 2015, we didn’t anticipate the challenges we’d encounter with growing the business. Those challenges manifested themselves as mistakes in our production, which essentially means lots and lots of waste. At our low point, we were generating nearly 1,600,000 pounds of annual trash. That amount of trash will cover an entire football field nearly 5 feet deep in waste."

Through a series of micro-innovations, Companion have reduced their annual trash by over 1,000,000 lbs. Lots of little changes and adaptations to their process added up to lots and lots of trash saved. For example, they are reclaiming the dusting flour on one of bread lines that keeps the dough from sticking to the belt on the machine. Josh explains, “In the past, we simply emptied the catch trays into the trash. With the trash initiative, one of our bakers decided to calculate the amount of flour we were throwing away since the line runs 16–18 hours a day. A total of 175 lbs. per day, six days per week — nearly 55,000 lbs. per year!”

The waste reduction, coupled with a comprehensive composting and recycling program that has evolved through the initiative, represents a massive 76% reduction in Companion’s landfill contribution.

By measuring and managing their trash, they have changed the thoughts and actions of their bakers. Today, waste reduction plays a role in each and every decision at Companion, from sales, the production process, and automation to packaging, etc.

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