Chipotle Leading Sustainable Packaging Trend

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Chipotle’s half-decade commitment to sustainability largely serves as a blueprint for the foodservice segment.

In 2018, Chipotle announced that, by the year 2020, the fast-casual chain aimed to divert half of all of its restaurant waste from landfills. In 2020, the fast-casual chain surpassed its goal with a 51% diversion rate. Brian Niccol, CEO of Chipotle, recently noted that sustainability remains a strategic priority for the restaurant chain.

With compostable bowls and initiatives like Glove to Bags — which turns used plastic gloves into garbage bags —  Chipotle is paving the way for sustainable practices in the food industry. Meanwhile, companies like Mars, Burger King, and Taco Bell are following in Chipotle’s footsteps with their own sustainability initiatives.

Burger King

Burger King recently announced plans to use more environmentally friendly packaging. With plans to start initial programs in Miami, Matthew Banton, Global Head of Innovation & Sustainability at Burger King, announced “a green packaging pilot program focused on finding scalable solutions for eight of our most-used, guest-facing items including forks, spoons, knives, straws, drink lids, Frypods, Whopper wrappers and napkins.”

Burger King’s Frypods, better known as cupholders, will be composed of renewable unbleached virgin paperboard, reported FOOD+WINE. Forks, spoons, knives will be composed of cPLA, a plant-based plastic. Napkins will be composed of “100-percent recycled fiber.”

Taco Bell

On April 19, Taco Bell announced its commitment to recycling its hot sauce packets. Through a partnership with recycling company TerraCycle, the quick-service restaurant aims to make “all consumer-facing packaging recyclable, compostable, or reusable by 2025 in restaurants worldwide.

Mars Wrigley

In 2017, Mars Wrigley announced its commitment to using 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025. Earlier this year, representatives from Mars Wrigley announced their commitment to rolling out biodegradable packaging for the company’s candy wrappers. The company aims to test this new packaging on Skittles in the U.S. The packages are set to appear in stores in 2022, reported BBC News.

Although they’re in their early phases, these initiatives could create a domino effect and push the fast-food segment to put sustainability at the core of restaurants’ operations.