Fast-service food company Chipotle is the latest to announce a waste reduction goal, vowing to divert half of all of its restaurant waste from landfills by 2020. Chipotle says the company has increased the amount of food and packaging diverted from landfills from 31% in 2015 to 40% last year.
While waste reduction commitments are a dime a dozen these days, Chipotle shared specific strategies it is using to achieve its goals.
Chipotle uses data to predict and manage its waste diversion rate. For example, after auditing its restaurants, the company replaced plastic wrap, a non-divertible product, with reusable lids to reduce the amount of material it sends to landfills.
Top diversion guru
The company named a “Diversions Coordinator” to oversee the work Chipotle is undertaking to meet the 50% goal.
Chipotle also engages outside companies to ensure proper waste handling at its restaurants. These partners – including RiverRoad Waste Solutions which works with approximately half of Chipotle locations – constantly evaluate and implement programs to maximize waste diversion at the restaurants.
Training of food prep staff
Chipotle has implemented a training program, Mindful Prep, which teaches restaurant staff how to minimize food waste during the preparation process. Employees are also taught to recycle packaging with in-restaurant recycling and compost programs targeted for food packaging disposal.
Adjusting food prep to sales
Chipotle adjusts services and food preparation to its sales per restaurant so less food is going to waste at the end of day.
By 2020, Chipotle has pledged that 80% of its restaurants will participate in the Harvest Program, which donates leftover food to local community organizations.
The company is also committed to increasing the availability of composting in its restaurants to 20% by 2020.
Chipotle acknowledges that a waste diversion rate of 50% is an ambitious goal, “but we feel it’s important to be assertive in our efforts to advance our purpose,” says Caitlin Leibert, head of sustainability at Chipotle. “It’s the right thing to do for all of our stakeholders, and we’ll continue building our momentum by championing issues that are important to them,” she told Environmental Leader.