DENVER – Chipotle Mexican Grill has set a goal of diverting 50 percent of all its restaurant waste from landfills by 2020.

A Diversion Coordinator will oversee the company’s progress. RiverRoad Waste Solutions works with roughly half of Chipotle restaurants to evaluate and implement programs that maximize waste diversion. Chipotle also announced several best practices the company will implement to reach its goal.

The Mindful Prep initiative trains restaurant staff to minimize food waste during the preparation process, along with targeted initiatives to reduce packaging. Chipotle said this initiative has lowered the chain’s amount of total waste upfront.

In “right sizing,” Chipotle aligns services and food preparation to its sales per restaurant so that less food goes to waste.

The company has started more in-restaurant recycling and compost programs for food packaging disposal. As part of this protocol, Chipotle is working toward a goal of ensuring 100 percent of its restaurants are recycling by 2020.

Waste audits glean existing data to predict and manage waste diversion rates at Chipotle. One outcome of the audits, for example, led the company to replace plastic wrap with reusable lids to reduce the amount of material sent to landfills.

By 2020, Chipotle has pledged that 80 percent of its restaurants will participate in the Harvest Program, which donates leftover food to local community organizations.

Finally, Chipotle has committed to increasing the availability of composting in its restaurants to 20 percent by 2020.

“Increasing our waste diversion rate to 50 percent is an ambitious goal, but we feel it's important to be assertive in our efforts to advance our purpose,” said Caitlin Leibert, head of sustainability at Chipotle. “We remain deeply dedicated to bringing guests great tasting food while upholding Chipotle’s values and commitment to food made with respect for the land and environment.”

Chipotle already has made significant advances toward reducing the amount of food and packaging waste sent to landfills. Since 2015, the company has increased its diversion rate from 31 percent that year to 40 percent in 2017.