NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Using a wide umbrella to cover issues ranging from animal welfare, environmental impact with an emphasis on reducing restaurant-created waste, Chipotle Mexican Grill released its 2018 Sustainability Report April 30. 

Citing a goal of cutting the company’s waste sent to landfills in half by 2020, Chipotle is committed to using innovation to develop programs such as a pilot program used by restaurants in Portland, Oregon, and Sacramento, California, to upcycle plastic gloves used in the eatery to manufacture plastic trash bags. Since officials with the chain studied waste patterns and identified the opportunities to repurpose its gloves, the pilot program, which began at eight eateries in Portland, expanded to include 17 more locations in Sacramento.  

The report provides updates on Chipotle’s progress made in its sustainability efforts, including: Reducing average restaurant waste by 25 percent since 2016; diverting waste from landfills by 42 percent; utilizing napkins and bags made from 100 percent recycled fibers; using paper cups certified by the Sustainable Forest Initiative; and adoption of a recycling or compost program to divert waste at 88 percent of restaurants.

“If we truly want to be leaders in this space, we cannot just settle for the best available option,” said Caitlin Leibert, director of sustainability at Chipotle. “There is no ‘one-size-fits-all solution’ for sustainability. We want to revolutionize the way people think about waste and the potential of everyday items like gloves and trash bags.”

The company is targeting 2020 as the goal for testing recyclable or compostable cups and lids and promoting a strawless option; reducing plastic cutlery use by 20 percent; and incorporating recycling and compost diversion programs at all its restaurants.

"Being transparent with the world holds us accountable for our actions," said Brian Niccol, CEO of Chipotle, who published an open letter to address how the company is doing its part to tackle the food industry’s “hidden waste problem.”

“We want everyone to know exactly what we are doing, from how our food is raised to how it is served. We are doing our part to help limit our impact on the environment and to change the way people think about trash, energy and food,” Niccol said.