While the exponential rise of the online marketplace has opened opportunities for unused items, giving them a second life, along with a chance for the seller to make some extra income, the downside is its impact on the circular economy and the plastic recycling efforts of the grocery industry.
The company - which was founded to buy, manage and police an extensive pool of reusable Omega Baskets and dollies for transporting bread produced by some of the UK’s largest bakery manufacturers - claims illegal sales of its own equipment are being listed on platforms like eBay and Facebook Marketplace. Despite misleading descriptions, each piece sports the company’s name, address and contact details, leaving no doubt about its ownership.
While Bakers Basco cannot decry individuals selling their own possessions, it said it is unacceptable for them to profit from someone else’s property. Even worse, when confronted, some sellers refuse to return the equipment, demanding payment instead.
According to the company, this behaviour is not only costing the baking industry millions each year and is disrupting the supply chain, impacting bakeries, retailers and consumers alike, leading to increased costs and inconvenience.
Misusing specialised equipment like bread baskets also poses consumer health risks and contributes to environmental harm.
As such, Bakers Basco is calling for responsible behaviour and adherence to industry standards to preserve the integrity of the supply chain and protect the environment.
It is also taking proactive measures to safeguard its pool of equipment and has appointed a dedicated team to monitor all social media sites, threatening legal action against anyone found selling its equipment online.
“We are deeply concerned about the misuse and illicit sale of our plastic bread baskets,” said Stacey Brown, national investigations manager at Bakers Basco.
“These baskets are specially designed for our members, ensuring hygiene standards and safe storage and transportation of baked goods. Selling them for general-purpose use poses contamination risks, compromises food safety and adds to the already pressing plastic waste problem.”
The offline world has seen its share of challenges in recovering stolen bakery equipment, despite deploying national investigations teams and GPS tracking technology. However, the proliferation of online marketplaces has exacerbated the problem, posing a significant new challenge for various industries.
It is essential for consumers to be aware of the impact of such actions on the circular economy and plastic recycling, it said.
Bakers Basco is a joint venture set up in 2006 by five leading plant bakers - Allied Bakeries, Fine Lady Bakeries, Frank Roberts & Sons, Hovis and Warburtons, together representing more than 55% of the UK bakery market in the UK - to buy, manage and police the use of equipment to deliver bread to retailers and wholesalers.
Its current pool includes over 4m baskets and 500,000 heavy-duty wheeled dollies; equipment that is custom designed, sturdy, reusable and recyclable, contributing in the circular economy under its commitment to reduce its impact on the environment.