Global bakery Bimbo switching to biodegradable plastics

MEXICO CITY (Aug. 6, 12:30 p.m. ET) — Giant baker Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV is pressing on with its switch to biodegradable packaging for all its products in Mexico.

The move, mentioned in the Mexican conglomerate’s annual report for 2009, is part of a project called Committed to the Environment (Comprometidos con el Medio Ambiente), which Bimbo launched in November 2007.

In the annual report, published June 30, Bimbo said it started introducing biodegradable packaging last year. Without providing details, it said the technology “reduces the period of degradation from 100 years to between three and five.”

It didn’t say how long it will take to complete the switch to biodegradable packaging on all its brands. But sliced bread brands, including Wonder, are now stamped with a seal that reads “100 percent degradable” (Empaque 100 por ciento degradable) on their plastic packaging.

“We’re in the process of change,” a Bimbo spokesman in Mexico City told Plastics News, when asked specifically about the type of packaging used for products sold by El Globo, the group’s premium class cake and pastry chain of 263 outlets, which it purchased in 2005.

In early 2009 Bimbo unveiled in Mexico what it claimed were the world’s first oxo-biodegradable, metallized polypropylene snack bags, using additive technology developed by British company Symphony Environmental Technologies plc and sold under the d2w trademark.

The technology was used for a snack brand called Barcel. According to Daniel Servitje Montull, Bimbo’s managing director, Barcel’s oxo-biodegradable re-packaging program is due to be completed by the end of 2010.

Grupo Bimbo operates in 17 countries across the American continent and in Asia and has 98 production plants. Wonder is one of its 150-plus brands, which market 7,000 products.

In fiscal year that ended Dec. 31, the company registered net sales of 116.3 billion pesos ($9.2 billion), up from 82.3 billion pesos ($7.4 billion) a year earlier.

Bbu Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas, controls Bimbo’s operations in the United States, where its brands include Oroweat, Mrs. Baird’s, Weber’s, Bimbo, Thomas, Francisco, Old Country, Bohemian Heart and Roman Meal.

Among other Bimbo achievements in Mexico in 2009, the company said it managed to reduce its consumption of electricity by 6 percent and of natural gas by 10 percent.

The company’s production plants are in the U.S., México, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela and China.

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