Closing the loop on bread crates 


A vital cog in GWF’s supply chain are our bread crates. The humble bread crate is a fit for purpose plastic crate that is designed to transport a loaf of bread from the bakery to the retailer’s shelf. The crates interlock and can stack upwards of ~2.2 meters, to allow for millions of baked products to be distributed to supermarkets and all our retail partners nationwide.

Once in a supermarket our bread crates double also as a merchandising solution. The bread crates are designed to easily slide in and out of the racks. This improves efficiencies in restocking empty shelves, reduces manual handling and ensures that our products arrive in kiwis’ trollies and baskets the way they were baked.

Once empty the bread crates are collected and returned to the bakery, where they are washed and refilled with freshly baked bakery products. We use bread crates as they are more sustainable and food safer solution than using wooden crates or cardboard boxes to distribute baked goods.

Currently there are 100,000 bread crates in circulation across New Zealand and each year GWF Baking NZ needs to buy 20,0001 new crates. For durability reasons the bread crate is made from polypropylene and under normal operation a bread crate will last 5-8 years.

What we’re doing

Until recently GWF would only purchase new bread crates, which were made from ‘newly sourced’ polypropylene. As plastic is a malleable and recyclable material. We have been able to work with our supplier to collect all our damaged and end of life bread crates, grind them up and recycle them into brand-new bread crates.

The result

We are proud to say that from March 2021 that 100% of our new bread crates are now made with ~50% recycled polypropylene and by 2025 all our bread crates will be made from recycled polypropylene.

As a business we are proud of our first closed loop system and that we will no longer require 10 tonnes2 of newly sourced polypropylene, to be sourced and used in our supply chain. This is a fitting example of how as a business we want to adopt a continuous improvement sustainability model.


Why do you not distribute bread in a cardboard tray?

A cardboard tray would be an individual use item, which would increase the cost of each loaf of bread and increase the demand on renewable resources. Using a plastic tray increases reusability and by recycling old trays into new trays reduces the volume of plastic required to run our business in the future.

How long does a bread crate last?

Under normal operations, a bread crate is expected to last between 5 and 8 years.

How many uses does a bread crate get?

We estimate that each bread crate is used ~1,2483 times before it is ground up and turned into a new bread crate.

This data is not live and is subject to change. Last updated 05/08/21.

  1. Estimated based on supply chain purchase orders.
  2. 2kg of polypropylene is used to make one crate. 20,000 ordered per year, with 50% recycled materials is 10 tonnes less new plastic material required to make GWF’s crates each year.
  3. Based on 3 uses per week, every week over an 8-year period.