Elisa Vandekerckhove,
Young Graduate

During the second half of 2021, five promising young talents – the Young Graduates – looked into how Lotus Bakeries can reduce its CO2 footprint further. Marie, Sofie, Flore, Elisa and Edward identified how sustainable Lotus Bakeries is now, defined bottlenecks and came up with proposals to help drive the already strong sustainability ambitions.


“After we had all spent six months immersed in our own departments – marketing, sales, R&D and operations – the EXCO asked us to take six months researching together how Lotus Bakeries’ CO2 footprint could be reduced”, Marie Tanghe begins. The young graduates soon found that the fact that they all came from different departments was a plus. Sofie Lambert continues: “Lotus Bakeries wants to convey its sustainability ambitions throughout all areas of the business. So, a first, essential part of our task was to identify how Lotus Bakeries stood when it came to sustainability and to define bottlenecks. Since each of us brought a different perspective, we were able to form a complete picture based on the experience we had gained in our own departments.”





Edward Boone,
Young Graduate

This first task had to be completed very thoroughly, because Lotus Bakeries had no intention of launching initiatives that might sound good, but were not always so impactful on the business as a whole. “The EXCO asked us to cover the first part of our project in great detail, to provide more insight into the topic”, Sofie explains. “What is sustainability? What is a CO2 footprint? Why might that only be part of the story? And how can Lotus Bakeries build a vision for sustainability in the short and long term? It wants to play a leading role in this area. Not by making empty promises, but by telling it like it is, and setting clear, achievable and quantifiable goals on this basis. This makes our sustainability objectives measurable so we can track our progress year by year.” First of all, the young graduates were asked to consider as broadly as possible how Lotus Bakeries could do business more sustainably. “In this first phase, no idea was too wild. The aim was to really think outside the box and leave no stone unturned. And we didn’t just limit ourselves to Belgium, but looked at our activities across the globe”, Elisa Vandekerckhove continues. “That was a real challenge: it was the first time we had approached sustainability from a business angle. We were soon able to define several pillars for more sustainable operations: energy, waste and transport. Then we explored each pillar in more depth, and looked for points for improvement.”






Flore en Sofie
Sofie Lambert and Flore Vanden Bussche,
Young Graduates

In a second phase, the many ideas garnered by the young graduates underwent a feasibility check. “During our project, we were supervised closely by CFO Mike Cuvelier and Group HR Director Stéphanie De Lange. We soon found that even the most innovative ideas were taken seriously. We were put in touch with colleagues within the company who could help us evaluate the feasibility of the various ideas”, Marie explains. “It was great to see how many people were open to our suggestions, and prepared to help us work out how we could put them into practice.” Her colleague Edward Boone agrees: “Obviously, there were lots of ideas that didn’t pass the feasibility check. But what was fun about the whole process was that we found that there was already much more sustainability than we thought. Lots of our colleagues have been grappling with the subject for a long time. Our mailbox was soon overflowing with more suggestions, insights, initiatives...” At the end of the process, the young graduates drew up a shortlist of proposals for improving sustainability, which they presented to the EXCO. “We grouped our ideas around the three pillars: energy, waste and transport. On the one hand there were suggestions for reducing CO2 emissions numerically, and on the other hand there were initiatives to create a sustainable mindset and increase engagement among all employees of Lotus Bakeries”, explains Flore Vanden Bussche. “Because we want every Lotus ambassador to have a heart for sustainability.”

It soon became clear that implementing the proposals for reducing emissions would be a daunting task. “We didn’t have enough specialist expertise to develop them further, together with our jobs”, Edward comments. “So we handed them over to other people within the organisation, who will take this further. We are pleased to see how many proposals have been taken on board and implemented within the company. The bigger projects are still on the drawing board, but there are also quick wins like switching to LED lighting sooner than planned in the plants, or adding electric and hybrid vehicles to the company car fleet.”






Marie Tanghe,
Young Graduate

To round off their project, the young graduates lent their support to the ‘sustainable entrepreneur event’, one of their own ideas for promoting a sustainable mindset among Lotus staff. “At this event, Belgian start-ups will present something to do with sustainability that we can implement at Lotus Bakeries”, Elisa explains. “Covid permitting, it will take place in late spring 2022. We have asked the start-ups to think about why their product or service could be relevant to a company like Lotus Bakeries. During the event, all employees can talk to these companies, explore new possibilities, find inspiration and offer it in return. The idea is to get people thinking, and increase engagement. There should be plenty of cross-fertilisation.”

The young graduates will draw together all of the ideas coming out of the event, and then the project will be ready for them. “One of the most impactful outcomes of our project is that we are all fully immersed in the sustainability mission, and there’s at least one extra sustainability ambassador in each area of the business”, comments Sofie. “As sustainability is one of the pillars on which Lotus Bakeries focuses, there were high expectations of this assignment. We took them seriously, and carried out the assignment as thoroughly as possible. And we’ll bring the sustainability reflex we acquired along the way to all the projects we undertake in future. We are extremely grateful for this opportunity.”