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Providing jobs to the disabled in France

Developing a disabled-jobs program that turns unsold bread into cookies and animal feed

Since 2013, Handicap Travail Solidarité has worked to support the disabled with jobs and social activities. The Air Liquide Foundation is helping the association develop its SoliPain project, which turns unsold bread into various other foodstuffs at a vocational rehabilitation center near Nantes, in the west of France.

Integrating disabled individuals

Disabled individuals who cannot work for traditional businesses are directed toward special facilities known as “ESATs” (vocational rehabilitation centers). These facilities are currently lacking in space, and the unemployment rate among the disabled is twice the national average. 

One such center near Nantes, called ESAT La Montagne, became the first facility to host the SoliPain project in 2018. During the launch phase, the SoliPain team at ESAT La Montagne, which comprised eight disabled workers, produced 900 cookies a week using unsold bread. This number is due to increase thanks to the acquisition of new equipment, financed by the Air Liquide Foundation. 

Eventually, the association hopes to expand the SoliPain project to 60 ESATs. Thanks to this new program, 700 to 800 sustainable jobs will be created for the disabled.

Handicap Travail Solidarité

SoliPain launch phase

900 cookies a week

8 disabled workers

30 tons of bread recycled

Objectives in France

750 000 cookies a week

700–800 sustainable jobs for the disabled

50 000 tons of bread recycled

Reducing food waste and promoting the circular economy

This project contributes to the fight against food waste, since an estimated 300,000 tons of bread is thrown out every year in France. Thanks to ESAT La Montagne, no less than 30 tons of bread are currently being recycled every year. 

In addition, SoliPain depends on a circular economy. The ingredients used to make the pastries (eggs, butter and flour) are provided by local suppliers, and most of the stores that donate the unsold bread have agreed to resell SoliPain products.

How is the Air Liquide Foundation involved?

The Air Liquide Foundation financed the purchase of a machine designed to turn bread into cookies.