Chipotle Goes Electric With Rooftop Solar, Wind Energy and EV Chargers
What could be better than sitting outside, enjoying a burrito made with fresh ingredients on a spring day? A burrito served in biodegradable packaging, made by a restaurant powered exclusively by renewables that provides electric vehicle (EV) chargers to its customers — at least that’s what Chipotle Mexican Grill’s new “Responsible Restaurants” model is counting on.
As part of its goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and achieving net zero by 2040, the fast-casual restaurant chain is trying out an all-electric restaurant powered by 100 percent solar and wind energy.
“The new restaurant design pilot will help Chipotle progress toward its science-based targets, established in alignment with Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), to reduce direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030 compared to a 2019 baseline,” a press release from Chipotle said.
Chipotle offers Mexican food made without artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, with ingredients that are ethically sourced, reported Electrek.
As part of its commitment to sustainability, last year the company donated more than 282,000 pounds of leftover food to community groups as part of its Harvest Program. Chipotle also reduced its direct greenhouse gas emissions by 13 percent in 2022 — even though it opened 200 new stores — and 40 percent of its electricity came from renewables.
The restaurant chain has also improved the sustainability of its packaging. In 2022, all of its napkins, bags, burrito bowls and trays for kids meals and quesadillas were made from biodegradable natural fibers.
Some of the features of the Mexican grill’s new model include heat pump water heaters, cactus leather seats, electric grills to replace their signature gas grills, artwork made from recycled rice husks, rooftop solar panels and EV charging stations at some locations.
“With an aggressive development goal of eventually growing to 7,000 locations in North America, Chipotle will leverage its new restaurant openings to scale the company’s overall impact. Chipotle plans to have more than 100 of its new locations in 2024 utilize all-electric equipment and at least some additional elements from its new design. The company will continue to innovate and iterate on the new design as it gains operational feedback and insights,” the press release said.
In addition to the vegan and vegetarian options that are standard with Mexican cuisine, last year Chipotle began selling its plant-based chorizo in the U.S., made from an in-house recipe, Business Insider reported.
Restaurants incorporating the new design have already opened in Jacksonville, Florida, and Gloucester, Virginia. Another location is slated to open this summer in Castle Rock, Colorado.
In 2021, the company announced that it would begin basing 10 percent of its annual incentives for executives on meeting environmental and diversity goals.
In order to help meet its direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions goal, other initiatives are in the works for the company, including the standardization of energy management systems for heating, cooling and refrigeration; investments in emissions-reductions projects for beef and dairy production; investing in strategies to support a wider adoption of regenerative agriculture methods by its supply chain partners; increasing the purchase of local produce with a minimum goal of 36.4 million pounds this year; and the development of more vegan and vegetarian options for its menu.
Chipotle currently owns and operates 3,200 restaurants in the U.S., CNN reported.
“With our aggressive development goal in North America, we hold ourselves accountable to reduce the environmental impact of our restaurants,” said Laurie Schalow, chief corporate affairs officer at Chipotle, in the press release. “We are aiming to incorporate some elements of our responsible restaurant design into many of our new restaurant openings going forward.”
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