Chipotle Has A Plan To Cut Back On Waste — & It's Identified A Surprising Culprit

Photo: Courtesy of Chipotle.
From Starbucks to Dunkin, our favorite food brands have recently started to share their big plans to help save our planet. These brands, which also include Aldi and Trader Joe’s, are tackling everything from food waste to packaging in an effort to do their part in saving our planet.
Chipotle just joined the fold with an update on its progress: By 2020, the chain hopes to divert 50% of its restaurant waste from landfills. The burrito seller also announced its intention to experiment with recyclable and compostable cups and lids, including a strawless option.
With exactly 8 months to go, Chipotle is well on its way to reaching its goal. In last year’s report, Chipotle claimed it had managed to divert 42% of its restaurant waste from landfills.
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In an effort to figure out where that last 8% might be cut from, Chipotle conducted a detailed waste audit to get a better idea of what exactly it is it’s dumping in the trash, and the culprit is something unexpected. Turns out, 95% of all the gloves used in Chipotle restaurants end up in landfills.
Chipotle employees are required to wear gloves if they’re preparing or serving food, they are required to wash their hands when switching between tasks, and to change gloves every hour. Chipotle roughly has 70,000 employees, nationwide. That’s a lot of gloves but that’s also how you prevent outbreaks and shutdowns. According to the $2-guacamole-purveyor, there are “no known commercial recycling available for the gloves.” So Chipotle started a pilot program to turn plastic gloves into trash bags.
In its latest sustainability report, Chipotle takes a moment to highlight its 2018 accomplishments, such as a 25% reduction of average restaurant waste. Since the goal was first set in its 2016 sustainability report, Chipotle has managed to switch over to napkins and paper made of 100% recycled fiber and use Sustainable Forestry Initiative certified cups, exclusively.
Although reports like these are the result of internal auditing conducted by Chipotle and should be taken with a grain of salt, they give us consumers something to hold them accountable. If 2019 is the year brands tell the world they want to make a difference, then 2020 is the year we hold them to it.
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