Chipotle has diverted 51 percent of its waste, the company said in its 2020 Sustainability Report released this week. The QSR chain said it was able to do much of this through recycling, composting, and waste-to-energy programs.
This is the third annual sustainability report from Chipotle, and it tracks the company’s progress on sustainability goals over time. For example, diverting 2,071,583 cubic yards of waste — or over half of all its waste — was a company goal laid out in the 2018 Sustainability Report.
Waste-diverting efforts have so far included transforming used plastic gloves into trash bags, and the Avocado Dye Line, which involves dying clothing with the pits of avocados. Caitlin Leibert, Head of Sustainability for Chipotle, noted in a statement that keeping that much waste out of the landfills was “an extraordinary achievement” for a company of that size. Chipotle currently operates more than 2,500 locations.
The 2020 Sustainability report aligns with the company’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) metric, which ties some executive compensation to annual targets around diversity and sustainability. Chipotle breaks these objectives into three categories: food and animals, people, and the environment.
Across those three categories, some results from the 2021 sustainability report include:
- Purchasing over 31 million pounds of local produce – an investment of more than $23.3 million into local food systems
- Donated more than $5 million to local community organizations through 26,000 fundraisers in its restaurants
- Offered industry-leading, debt-free degrees in business for employees and recently expanded the program to include Culinary, Hospitality and Agriculture majors
- Setting up and maintaining a composting program at 25 percent of its locations
- Reducing 62,582 kWh of energy, which the company says is the emissions equivalent of 10,000 passenger vehicles driven for one year or 5,300 homes powered for one year
- Launching Real Foodprint, a digital tool that calculates the environmental impact of Chipotle ingredients
- Upcycling 60,000 avocados for the Dye Line
In a forward to the report, Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol said “more work can always be done,” and along those lines, the report outlines future goals for the company. Among those are, converting more than 400 acres of conventional farmland to organic farmland, developing a Minority Supplier Development program, reducing overall waste by 5 percent by 2025, and piloting at least one initiative in 2021 that reduces plastic.
Chipotle is one of those chains that, thanks to a focus on digital prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, has not just pulled through but thrived during the last year. The brand is big enough at this point that its sustainability practices can help influence the entire restaurant industry,