Sustainability investment returns lifetime value

Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses has stepped up its investment in sustainability once again with the purchase of a custom-made pie machine that is already delivering measurable savings.

Made by RINC in Holland, the machine can produce more than 6,000 pies per hour that look handmade while still carrying the benefits of production efficiency and virtually no wastage.

The new machine has reduced Ferguson Plarre’s organic waste by 1,250kg each week – a saving equivalent to 1,200 pies with an environmental benefit of reducing more than 300,000kg of CO2 each year.

Ferguson Plarre General Manager, Michael Plarre, said the return on investment (ROI) was evident overnight.

“We’re saving more than just the cost of ingredients because, by the time we’re in production, labour has already been consumed in the process,” Michael said.

“We studied the bakery machine market overseas for years and thoroughly researched what we needed to future-proof our business both financially and sustainably.

“The capital investment is paying dividends through improved efficiency and amazing waste savings. Our goal is to run as close as we can to zero waste.”

The new machine has also enabled a significant drop in excessive manual handling with benefits including reduced risk of injury to the bakery team.

“The way we see it, having a balanced business means investing in innovation for your future while delivering extremely well on your core business today,” Michael said.

pie line - lowres

The above photo features the pie machine.

Sustainability commitment proves value

Ferguson Plarre’s award-winning manufacturing facility is arguably Australia’s most sustainable plant bakery.

Environmental features include hot water generation for cake production using waste heat captured from refrigeration, redistribution of heat recovered from freshly baked products, rainwater capture saving more than 625,000 litres each year, and hybrid vehicle technology for the delivery fleet that reduces the company’s carbon footprint by more than 5,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

The initial $300,000 investment in sustainability initiatives saw rapid ROI, with an estimated saving of $290,000 in electricity costs alone each year.

Ferguson Plarre CEO, Steve Plarre, said the business’ ethos put environmental considerations on an equal playing field as financial ones.

“Sustainability is our number one decision-making filter,” Steve said.

“It’s simple – if we want to keep selling pies to the world we have to look after it.

“We’re expecting waste to drop by at least 50% over time from the pie machine investment, which is an outstanding result considering we had already eliminated 95% of co-mingled waste since launching the facility in 2007.”

In the past 12 months, the business has seen electricity use reduced by 9%, gas by 2.2% and waste by 2%.

It is also moving to carbon neutral paper bags for Ferguson Plarre and for the Plarre family’s newest venture, Puckles Family Bakehouse, in Queensland.

For Ferguson Plarre alone, it represents a saving of 29 tonnes of CO2e – the equivalent of taking more than five cars off the road each year.

“There’s always more you can do. Our planet can’t sustain waste at the rates our society is creating it and that’s why we believe it’s imperative that businesses take action now,” Steve said.

“Family is a significant driver in what we do. We’re dads and we’re looking at the world our kids will inherit in terms of air quality and our landscapes – it’s a compelling motivation to invest in the future.

“Right now we’re looking at new ways to help our employees and our customers spread the sustainability culture. We want to make this contagious.”

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