Smart sensors will reduce food waste in bread production

Food waste is a gigantic and increasing problem in the developed countries and requires immediate action as this constitutes a massive loss of resources throughout the food production value chain. This project aims at constructing, testing and optimising a pilot process line to receive, handle and process bread waste.  This technology enables the bread sector to reduce food waste by 50 % by 2030 and partly fulfilling UN’s sustainability goal # 12.3

The goal of this project is to integrate real time sensor technology in an automated process that separates bread waste, such as day-old bread and packed bread into homogeneous categories. By combining data from sensors with known product recipes, we can optimise the composition of a finished bread waste product which after drying and grinding will become ingredients in new sustainable foods such as granola, bread crackers, muesli bars, pasta, bread chips etc.

Further sorted and packed bread will be de-packed by integrating sensors with robot technology, thereby softly removing plastic packing from the bread. Before drying and grinding, real time detection of mould and microbial activity eliminates any risk of toxins in finished products.

Data from bread separation, de-packing and microbial detection will also serve as documentation and traceability enabling the finished products to meet the high food ingredient standards.

Status report summary
Visual recognition software and the sensor-based solution for mould detection have been developed. However, difficulties have been experienced with accessing necessary components. This has given less time to produce and test the prototype within the scope of the project. For this reason, construction of the prototype was broken into steps to obtain a working prototype as a soon as possible. Despite these challenges, the FoodReFurb concept has already drawn considerable positive attention, with good potential for deals on bread waste.

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