Start your bakery sustainably

You have to consider a lot of things when you start a bakery. Sustainability is one of those things. There are many laws and regulations for sustainable entrepreneurship, and new rules are being added every day. So you should learn more about sustainable entrepreneurship before you open your business. That will save you time later, and maybe even money as well.

Sustainable entrepreneurship is becoming more important. The earth is warming, and the climate is changing. To limit the negative effects of climate change as much as possible, the government is making more and more rules to make the Dutch business community more sustainable. On top of that, three-quarters of consumers (in Dutch) think it is important for companies to contribute to a better world. So it is a good idea to become more sustainable. Not just because you have to, but also to attract or keep your customers. .

You can make some sustainable choices before you start your bakery. Things like an electric oven, an energy-efficient building or an electric delivery van.

There are several ways to start a sustainable business:

Sustainable financing

If you want to start making your business more sustainable, you can take advantage of the SME credit guarantee scheme Green (BMKB-Groen). Through this scheme, the government will stand as a guarantor for loans meant to green your business. That lowers the risk for your lender, and makes it easier for you to get a loan.

Sustainable commercial property

As a baker, you will need both equipment and a business location. When choosing a building for your business, pay attention to the energy label. A low energy label means the building is energy-efficient. That will help you save money on your energy bills. And if the building is already well-insulated, you will not have to do it yourself.

Energy saving law checker

Use the Wetchecker energiebesparing (energy saving law checker) to check which legal obligations apply to your company or premises when it comes to savng energy and reducing CO2 emissions.

Sustainable energy for your bakery

Running a business without natural gas is becoming the standard in the Netherlands. By 2030, 1.5 million homes, offices and shops will stop using natural gas (in Dutch). Are you thinking of buying a building? Then opt for sustainable heating with a solar boiler or a heat pump. You can save money on your energy bills, and you will be eligible for an ISDE grant of between €1,000 and €2,500.

If you are taking over an existing bakery, you can use the ISDE grant to invest in sustainable energy (in Dutch).

Ask an energy consultant

The best way to start a business is to do it as sustainably as possible from the beginning, says Johan Sijtsma. Sijtsma works as an energy consultant at Stel consulting bureau, and helps entrepreneurs become more sustainable. “I prefer to take a tour of the company before the building is furnished”, he explains. “Then you can make the best use of the space when installing equipment.” For example, refrigerators and freezers create a lot of heat, as do ovens. “You can re-use that heat to heat your building (heat your building geeft 404-melding) .”

Optimising your machines and boiler does not cost any money, but it can easily save you hundreds of euros per year. “Most central heating boilers are set to the factory setting of 80 degrees, but they work more efficiently at 60 degrees”, Sijtsma explains.

Not the owner of the building?

Are you renting a building for your company? Then you can talk to your landlord and discuss ways to make the building more sustainable. Use this letter template by InRetail (in Dutch) to start the conversation. Include any agreements you make in your lease contract.

Looking to save energy as a baker

The Climate Agreement (in Dutch) includes agreements on reducing CO2 emissions. The Netherlands aims to cut emissions by a large amount before 2030, and entrepreneurs will have to contribute to that goal. Making your company more sustainable will help reduce your CO2 emissions and save money.

As a baker, you use a lot of energy for baking, refrigeration and heating. Are you thinking of buying equipment, like an oven or a cold storage unit? An electric oven will help avoid big changes in natural gas prices. Is your building in a neighbourhood that will have to stop using natural gas by 2030 (in Dutch)? If so, you will not have to replace an electric oven. When you buy an electric oven instead of a gas oven, you will pay less in taxes thanks to the Energy-Saving Investment Credit (Energie-investeringsaftrek/EIA). This is because you can deduct the investment costs from your taxable profit.

Energy efficiency obligation

If you use more than 50,000 kWh of electricity or more than 25,000 cubic metres of natural gas, you are required to take energy-saving measures with a return on investment time of five years. For example, you can re-use residual heat from the ovens, or install timer switches.

Duty of disclosure - Energy efficiency obligation

If the energy efficiency obligation applies to you, you also have a duty of disclosure as of 2019. Once every four years, you must report which measures you have taken via the digital portal of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) (in Dutch).

Grants and subsidies for improving sustainability

Several grants and subsidies are available for making your equipment and business processes more sustainable, like the Environmental Investment Credit (MIA), the Random write-off for green investments (Vamil) and the Energy-Saving Investment Credit (EIA). Some municipalities also help entrepreneurs make their businesses more sustainable. For example, as a business owner in Amsterdam, you can opt for a free energy consulting and assistance project (in Dutch). Ask your own municipality about the options available.

Sustainable transportation

If you also deliver baked goods, consider the laws and regulations for energy-efficient transport when you buy your delivery vehicle. Starting from 2025, the rules for driving in environmental zones will become stricter. You will only be allowed to enter a low-emission zone if your car or van meets emission standard four or five. Otherwise you will not be allowed to drive inside the environmental zone. Check whether your new car or delivery van is allowed inside the city.

Under the Subsidieregeling Emissieloze Bedrijfsauto’s (subsidy for zero-emission company cars/SEBA), you will receive a maximum discount of €5,000 when you buy or lease a new electric van. The Environmental Investment Credit (MIA) allows you to deduct up to 45% of your investment costs in an electric van from your taxable profit. This will reduce your taxes.

Waste, food waste, and recycling

As an entrepreneur, you are required to separate your waste. Different rules apply to businesses than for household waste. The Waste Guide (in Dutch) tells you what waste to separate and how to go about it.

Instead of using plastic bags for bread, you can package bread in re-usable bags or let customers bring their own packaging. Or you can choose to use biodegradable packaging instead. 

It is also important to think about food waste. Bread is the most discarded product in the Netherlands. As a baker, you can join environmental initiatives like the Too Good To app. Via the app, you can sell excess bread, baked goods and sandwiches. More than 2,100 Dutch bakeries already participate in the programme. You can also think about donating food to the Voedselbank food bank.

Making your product or service sustainable

Consumers are increasingly buying responsibly (in Dutch). More and more, they are choosing for sustainably produced, organic food products. So consider using locally grown grain, such as Nedertarwe. This grain is grown sustainably in the Netherlands.

Green quality marks

A green quality mark shows that your bakery is committed to sustainability. Organic bread can use the European organic seal of approval (in Dutch), the Demeter certification (in Dutch) and the EKO certification (in Dutch). A green quality mark is not required, but it can offer many benefits