Our commitment to the environment

Here at King Arthur Flour, we recognize that businesses can have big impacts on the natural environment; and that presents an important opportunity – a responsibility, we believe – to examine and address those impacts in hopes of enhancing rather than degrading the environment in which we all live and work.

We’ve diligently worked on projects at our facilities in Vermont, from recycling and composting, to reducing our use of energy. In 2009, in an effort to better understand the broader environmental impacts of our company, King Arthur Flour worked with Esty Environmental Partners to undertake an environmental audit investigating everything from the farming of our wheat to customers baking with our products. Through this audit we’ve identified the areas of biggest opportunity for improvement, and we’re working to find ways to lessen those impacts. It’s a commitment we make to ourselves, our communities, and generations to come.

Esty Environmental Partners identified the largest sources of carbon emissions resulting from King Arthur Flour’s business.

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Facilities & Operations

As part of our efforts to minimize our company’s environmental impacts, we’re continually assessing our systems and behaviors within the confines of our own facilities. While these may not be our biggest impacts, most are relatively easy to address, and they raise the visibility of and commitment to environmental stewardship among our employee-owners.

Energy Reduction

We’ve worked with Efficiency Vermont since 2007 to audit our energy use and identify potential improvements both big and small. As a result, we’ve replaced light fixtures in our warehouse and elsewhere to save more than 65,000 kWh of electricity per year; installed occupancy sensors on lights in many common areas; replaced some appliances with energy-efficient models; and continue to seek opportunities for further reduction in energy use. As we plan a major expansion at our facilities, we’re incorporating energy-efficient design and materials wherever possible.

By replacing lighting in our warehouse, we’ve reduced our energy use by more than 65,000 kWh per year while providing better lighting for our employee-owners.

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Solid Waste Reduction

Like most businesses, King Arthur Flour produces some solid waste. From office paper and ingredient packaging, to coffee grounds and vegetable peels, we have a variety of waste to manage. In 2009, we implemented a zero-sort recycling system that enables us to toss all recyclables – papers, a variety of plastics, metal, glass – into one bin, making it simpler for employees to recycle. Food scraps from our café kitchen, bakery, and classrooms are picked up by a local farmer and used to feed her cows, pigs, chickens, and more. Coffee grounds and anything else we can’t send to the animals goes into our on-site three-bin composter. We’ve also eliminated most disposable kitchenware from our facilities, and we continue to remind employees that while diverting waste through recycling and composting is good, “reduce” is the first “r”!

We compost food waste and have a zero-sort recycling system to minimize our contributions to the landfill.

Operations

There’s a lot we can do beyond energy use and solid waste to be better environmental stewards. Here at King Arthur Flour, we use GreenSeal-certified cleaning products that are environmentally friendly and better for the health of our employees; and we purchase them in bulk containers with refillable spray bottles, reducing waste. We use non-toxic food-grade lubricants on our manufacturing equipment, and recycled paper in our printers. And our no-idling policy minimizes air pollution coming from our parking lots.

From non-toxic machine lubricants to biodegradable pallet wrap, we try to consider the environment in every aspect of our operations.

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Farming & Milling

Through the use of water, fuel, fertilizer, and pest and weed control, wheat farming is the biggest contributor to environmental impacts in the production of flour. While this area is not in our direct control, we work closely with the farmers who grow our wheat to encourage no-till and other environmentally responsible farming practices and good land management. We recognize this as the biggest area for potential improvement and are committed to addressing it with our farmers in the coming years.

Wheat farming has significant impacts on the environment, and we’re working with the farmers who grow for King Arthur Flour to encourage environmentally-sensitive practices.

We never waver in our commitment to our centuries-old tradition of purity, both for the consumer and the environment. We hold steadfast to our commitment to sell flour without the bleach, bromates, and other chemical additives most U.S. flour manufacturers include.

Wheat is the lion’s share of King Arthur Flour’s environmental impacts by weight, though catalogue products likely have more impact per unit weight.

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Transportation

Transportation – of both our products and our employees – is another area rife with opportunity for lessening our environmental impacts. We provide information about local bus routes and ride-share programs, host a snack stop for Bike/Walk to Work Day, provide dedicated carpool parking close to our buildings, and have sponsored Green Commute Challenges to encourage employees to find better ways of getting to and from work each day. We also provide bicycles and helmets for employees to use for travel between our buildings, about 1.5 miles apart.

Esty Environmental Partners took a deeper dive into our carbon emissions from transportation so we can prioritize efforts to lessen our impacts.

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Green Up Vermont

Vermont is a great place to be in the spring. After the long, cold winter, we welcome the warmer weather with enthusiasm; and as buds and leaves start sprouting on the trees, we remember why this place that so recently seemed drab and gray is called the Green Mountain state.

Here at King Arthur Flour, we’re doing our best to help keep it green. Every May, our employee-owners head outside to participate in Green Up Day. This statewide effort to clean up litter began in 1970 and has been an annual King Arthur event for years. We all take a little time during the day to don our rubber gloves, grab some big green garbage bags, and scour the nearby roadsides, trails, and other public spaces for litter that has collected under the snow all winter. It’s a great chance to do something healthy for ourselves and for the planet.

Public resources for projects like picking up litter are scarce these days, so it’s more important than ever that we all pitch in and do our part to make our community a healthy and happy place to be. We feel privileged for the opportunity to make a difference where we live and work. What can you do for your community?

From Waste to Feast

Food waste is an unavoidable fact in our business. Day-old baguettes just don’t sell, and a bucket full of fruit and vegetable scraps is par for the course when you’re making lunch for hungry shoppers.

With our environmental mission in mind, we’ve partnered with local farmer Jean Essex to turn our food waste into a feast for her animals. Jean runs Windy Hill Farm, just up the road here in Norwich. She raises free-range chickens, pigs, lambs, cows, and turkeys, fed on good King Arthur bread, other food scraps, and the grasses that grow in her fields.

“Our goal is to promote sustainable agriculture by producing quality natural products for our friends, neighbors and the community,” Jean says. King Arthur Flour is proud to support Jean’s efforts – and to put our food waste to better use than the landfill – and it sure is cute to see her happy farm friends feasting on the best bread around!

Vermont Grains

Here at King Arthur Flour we pride ourselves on offering flours milled from the best U.S.-grown wheat – and at the King Arthur Flour Bakery in Norwich, we’ve added Vermont-grown wheat to our repertoire of ingredients. It’s not the easiest ingredient to work with – lacking the easy virtues of wheats grown in the Midwest due to the different landscape and climate that it has not been bred specifically for – but we are proud to support our local farmers, work with local ingredients, and offer a truly local product to our customers.

Our Vermont Grains Bread uses 100% Vermont-grown wheat – from farmers Ben Gleason and Ken Van Hazinga of Bridport, Tom Kenyon of Charlotte, and Jack Lazor of Westfield – natural leavening (no added bakers’ yeast), and the collective bread baking skills of our bakery team. Our goal was to produce bread from freshly milled organic wheat with an acceptable lightness and a full, robust flavor. We paid careful attention to the mixing process, dough consistency, length of proof time, oven temperature, and amount of steam injected into the oven, until all the elements were just right.

The result is a hearty organic whole-wheat bread with good volume and great eating qualities, made through an intimate connection to the characteristics of our local grains. We sell Vermont Grains Bread each Tuesday and Friday at the King Arthur Bakery, and it’s quickly become a popular favorite. We hope you’ll have a chance to come visit us here in Norwich and give it a try!

Green Your Commute

Much of our stewardship work at King Arthur Flour is focused on how our company can improve its impacts on the environment and community. At the same time, we support our employee-owners in their personal efforts to be better stewards in and outside the office. A little advice can go a long way in helping people implement sustainable lifestyle changes – and when these changes are green for the wallet, too, even better.

Our Green Commute initiative is a step in that direction. We encourage employees to find more sustainable ways of commuting and provide resources to help them figure out how. Instead of one person in one car, we suggest carpooling, public transportation, biking, or walking to work. Prime parking spaces are dedicated to carpoolers, and we even have bicycles for employees to use when they need to travel between our facilities. We’ve brought in our local rideshare organization to talk with people about their programs, and given maps and advice to employees thinking about safe bike routes to the office.

We’re encouraged to see employee-owners making more earth-friendly commutes nearly every day, because we know they’re helping the planet and themselves. What could you do to green your commute?