Zero Food Waste: Everything They Make is Eaten by Someone

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Jordan Boin

Jordan Boin

Jay Dix

Jay Dix

Hayley Coulter

Hayley Coulter

Jeff O'Neill

Jeff O'Neill


University of Guelph

University of Guelph


Ruben Burga

Ruben Burga

Global Goals

2. Zero Hunger 3. Good Health and Well-Being 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

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The COBS Bread Bakery has been able to increase value to key stakeholders through the implementation of a waste management program that gives away unsold baked goods to varying charitable organizations, food banks, and school breakfast programs.


WHAT is the innovation?

COBS Bread bakes products daily. Bakers come in every morning at 2 a.m. to start fresh. Naturally, not everything is sold at the end of the day. To make use of their left over products at the end of the day, COBS teams up with local food banks and charitable organizations to collect them.

Local charities contact COBS and fill out a validation form, so the bakery knows that they are a legitimate charity. Every night, a rep from the charity is invited to come to the bakery no later than 10 minutes after closing time to prepare their pick-up. To make it fair, COBS invites two charities per night, donating their leftover product to 14 charities a week.

HOW did the innovation emerge?

COBS customers really appreciate and ultimately pay for the freshest products possible, but each night the bakery finds itself with unsold product that they used to pay to dispose of. Every good company likes to get involved in its community, so COBS thought that offering the day-old goods to local charities would be the perfect opportunity give back, while benefiting the business.

WHO was involved in the creation of the innovation?

The innovation was created by their parent company, Baker’s Delight, based in Australia. The practice was adopted across Oceania, and when the company expanded into Canada under the COBS Bread name, they decided that it was in their best business interest to do so as well.

DOES the innovation relate to a sense of mission, purpose or meaning? If so, HOW?

The neat thing about this initiative is that it has been adopted company wide. This creates a strong sense of purpose as the company stands unified as one, attempting to work toward zero hunger. Their website states: “COBS Bread is a strong community supporter, contributing more than $25 million in bread to charities and people in need each year. We also support a range of health and community-based organizations, events, programs and environmental based initiatives.”

COBS Meadowvale is a big community supporter. Helping out is simply part of their culture. Every location across the world gets involved in it community in some way. “Every location sets up their own local charities, whether it’s a church, a Salvation Army a food bank, getting involved with schools, local festivals, etc.”

Helping out the community through this small initiative, really makes a big difference. And COBS is proud to continue to make a difference in every community they are in.

The giving starts with the daily donations, but doesn’t end there. COBS has a major partnership with Breakfast Club of Canada, across the entire country. “We do a things in our own community and locally, over and above our end of day donations. We work mostly with Mississauga food bank, Eden food bank, and breakfast Clubs of Canada,” says owner Tracey Walker.

Zero Food Waste: Everything They Make is Eaten by Someone


HOW did the original idea come about?

The original idea stemmed from COBS wanting to serve the freshest possible baked goods every day. In order for COBS to be able to start fresh everyday they could either throw out any of the unsold baked goods from the previous day or, give these baked goods away to the less fortunate. COBS felt that it was their responsibility to give these unsold baked goods away to where they are needed, instead of throwing these items out and wasting them.

WHAT was the motivation or purpose for doing the innovation?

At the end of day the donations are really a win-win situation. Through this, COBS is able to make connections throughout the community and get the word out about their products in a positive way.

This not only saves employees time as they no longer need to collect and dispose all of the unused products, but also saves the bakery money, as they don’t need to pay for extra waste collection.

Quotes from the interview that illustrate the inspiration behind the innovation?

“(Giving back to the community) was one of the biggest things that attracted us to the business, was the fact that COBS culture is really giving back to the community.”

Overall impact

WHAT was the impact of the innovation on the business?

There was a positive monetary and good-will impact. The company is able to use this as a “feel good” marketing strategy, and promotes this initiative to their customers. When people buy a loaf from COBS, they know that they are contributing to their local community. Moreover, those customers that are very community minded are more likely to purchase their baked goods from COBS knowing that it supports the bakery's ability to continue this charitable giving.

WHAT was the impact of the innovation on society?

Society has also received a positive impact. As a company, COBS donates around $25 million dollars worth of product each year. Places like food banks, schools, breakfast programs, and shelters are able to give healthy bread products to the people who need it most. Kids are able to focus in school, the homeless can enjoy a meal, and families are able to access healthier forms of carbohydrates.

WHAT was the impact of the innovation on the environment?

Since COBS generally eliminates most of their waste through their end of day donations, they are able to basically create zero food waste. Everything that they make is eaten by someone.

WHAT were the short-term effects? What were the long-term effects?

In the short term, COBS saw an immediate impact on customer satisfaction. They are delivering a premium product, and also satisfied the needs of local charities. They also have a short-term impact on employee efficiency. Employee time is not wasted on cleaning out and disposing of old product.

In the long term, COBS saw an increase in stakeholder value, was able to establish friendly community connections and saw an increase in profits as a result of reducing waste.

WHAT concrete evidence suggests that this impact has occurred?

“We have a school we deal with that started a breakfast program, giving breakfast to kids who weren’t getting it at home. They felt they had a need, but they had no idea how big their need was until they started the program. When they first started out, they only wanted a couple of loaves. They didn't want to waste anything, we only know there is a need but we don’t know how big that need is. They came back overwhelmed, not realizing how many kids were going to want to take advantage,” says Ms. Walker.

Business benefit

“I have had customers tell me that they were fans of ours to begin with, but when they found out we give our product to charities at the end of the day, it drove a deeper loyalty in them. They love our product but they love what we do as well,” says Ms. Walker.

COBS has also seen a huge impact of word of mouth business generation. Their customers see the value generated by COBS and actively promote the business without being prompted. Customers have become very loyal to the bakery establishing it as a must have when looking for baked goods.

Social and environmental benefit

The COBS Bread Bakery has been able to increase value to key stakeholders through the implementation of a waste management program that gives away unsold baked goods to varying charitable organizations, food banks, and school breakfast programs.


Tracey Walker, Franchise Owner

Photo of interviewee

Business information



Mississauga, ON, CA
Business Website:
Year Founded: 2009
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
COBS Bread stands behind its promise to bring you the freshest, highest-quality breads and baked goods every day. We believe bread tastes best when it comes fresh from the oven; this is why we only sell today what we bake today.