Panera Food Waste Found in Dumpsters Despite Company's Sustainable Practices


Jun. 26 2023, Published 2:29 p.m. ET

Panera Bread has programs in place to cut down on how much food it wastes. The chain restaurant is one of few that participate in sustainable practices, but its efforts did not go unnoticed by consumers. In 2021, the company donated about $80 million in unsold baked goods to over 3,400 charities through its Day-End Dough-Nation.

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However, some Panera Bread locations must have not received the memo because tons of bread, bagels, and baguettes still end up in the dumpster. Users on social media have been commenting on the ongoing Panera waste issue through platforms such as Reddit and Tiktok.

Keep reading for what you need to know about Panera's not-so-sustainable practices.

Outside of a Panera Bread restaurant.
Source: Getty Images
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Some Panera’s are still throwing away food.

A bakery employee commented on Panera food waste in a 2022 Reddit post. In the post, there is an image of bags of bakery products on a table. Although the post doesn’t identify that the bakery products are from Panera, the employee confirms in the comments that they work at Panera.

“I was forced to throw away bags of bread while at work. There is a homeless shelter two miles from where I work. All of this food is wasted,” the employee wrote in the Reddit post.

Panera food waste is also the topic of several TikTok videos. In one video posted on Feb. 21, 2023, TikTok user @loveinthedumpster opens a dumpster behind a Panera Bread to find a bag of discarded bakery goods. There’s a loaf of asiago cheese bread, a bag of blueberry bagels, large loaves of bread, crullers, cookies, and baguettes.

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“Places donating food that’s still good is the exception. The rule is still it gets thrown in a dumpster,” loveinthedumpster says in the TikTok video. “I’m taking these home man.”

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Two comments on Loveinthedumpster’s video said their local Panera always donated their leftover bread.

“My local Panera made it so I didn’t have to buy bread or pastries for my family for almost two years,” adds one commenter.

Consumers can buy Panera surplus food through the Too Good To Go app.

On the contrary, Panera locations are helping to eliminate food waste by offering unsold items through the app Too Good To Go.

Too Good to Go is an app designed to help fight food waste at restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores. The app sells surplus food to consumers in “Surprise Bags.”

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The consumer buys the bags through the Too Good To Go app at a discounted price without knowing what is actually in the bags. The app does enable users to select the type of food they want in their “Suprise Bag,” such as baked goods, groceries, meals, and vegetarian items.

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In a 2022 TikTok video, mom Erin Lessner and her two daughters go through a Too Good To Go Surprise Bag they bought for $5 at Panera. The bag included a muffin, a bear claw, a cookie, and a cinnamon roll.

Another TikTok video shows a woman opening her $5 Surprise Bag from Panera to find a dozen bagels, two cookies, and more.

Unfortunately, the Too Good To Go app is only available in a few cities. It is typically available in larger markets, including New York, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, Portland, Philadelphia, Portland, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington D.C.

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