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Bread in a bread shelf.

2017-06-29 08:30

Finding solutions to reduce industrial bread waste


Pedro Brancoli found the place to be at the Swedish Center for Resource Recovery at the University of Borås. He is now conducting a PhD study focusing on reducing bread waste in the industry – something that could have a big environmental impact.

Pedro BrancoliYou recently started your PhD – what is it about?

"It is about lifecycle assessment of waste, specifically bread waste. It is a continuation of my Master’s research, which I also did here at the university, and which was funded by Sparbanksstiftelsen Sjuhärad. That work will guide the PhD research. We found out that there is a lot of bread waste in supermarkets, which was a surprise. It’s just the tip of the iceberg but it creates a lot of waste. The first part of my PhD will include research to see how much waste there actually is in whole the supply chain, and where the worst part is happening. The second part of my research will be to test interventions and find the best way to reduce waste in the supply chain."

What do you hope to achieve?

"The goal is to reduce bread waste in the most economic and environmental way. It is about finding the benefits of each possible solution, and to see what is most effective. The waste from the industry is quite a big burden on the environment, and reducing it will have a big impact. One part of the supply chain might be more important to focus on. Depending on how the bread is sorted or handled, one part might be much worse than all the others. I want to find the best solution to reduce that waste."

Who do you work with?

"I work with my supervisor at the University of Borås and my co-supervisor who is from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala. I also work with other people in the academy and the industry. The work involves different parts of the supply chain, so it’s important to include people who have knowledge of those areas."

What have you done so far?

"We have been developing the research consortium, with different companies in the supply chain. I have been to Uppsala and Stockholm and have had meetings with Fazer, which is a large corporation in the bread industry. Other than that I have read a lot of literature to understand the problem."

You did your Master’s here in Borås, how come you chose to stay for your PhD as well?

"It all goes back to five years ago, when I came here for a study exchange semester. When I went back to Brazil I knew I wanted to come back to Sweden, because the department is spot on for me. Resource recovery is what I’ve always wanted to study in some way. I came back for my Master’s, and the thesis project was really interesting, so I decided to follow an academic career and do my PhD here. This university is really the place to be when you do what I do. The work environment is also really nice."

What does a regular day look like?

"For now a regular day is spent in front of a computer in my office. I do a lot of reading and searching for articles. I need to get the background before I can do anything else, so I read a lot and discuss ideas with other people. There will be more hands on work soon, to gather data. After all the data is collected, I will go back to the office to study it, to understand what is causing it and find a solution. So it varies a lot. It’s a lot of office work, but you also have to go out and see reality as it is."

Where do you see yourself in the future?

"I am not sure yet. I still have 4 years to decide, doing my PhD. There are a lot of directions I could go in my area. I could follow an academic career, continue researching, or find opportunities in consulting. The methodology can also be used in politics, to deal with environmental problems, and create policies and so on. It depends on if I want to stay here or go back to Brazil as well. So we’ll see. But I still have 4 years to figure it out."

Read more

Read a previous interview with Pedro Brancoli. 

Text and portrait photo: Jessica Ågren
Photo: Mostphotos