Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Panera Bread Becomes First National Chain to Use Climate-Friendly Label

Panera Bread Becomes First National Chain to Use Climate-Friendly Label
Panera Bread has partnered with the World Resources Institute to label menu items with a low carbon footprint. Kmf164 / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

Panera Bread customers now have the ability to make eco-conscious choices. The national soup and sandwich chain has partnered with the World Resources Institute (WRI) to label some of its menu items "Cool Food Meals," CBS News reported.

Panera Bread and WRI announced yesterday that the designation applies to about 55 percent of Panera's menu items. Panera has 2,118 stores.

The Cool Food Meal label is for menu items that have a carbon footprint under 5.38 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent, CNBC reported.

That threshold is actually 38 percent lower than the average American meal. This size reduction is needed to meet the 2030 targets established in the Paris Agreement, CBS News reported.

According to a press release, some of the chain's most popular items, including Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt, 10 Vegetable Soup, Fuji Apple Chicken Salad and Broccoli Cheddar Soup earned the Cool Food Meal designation.

The Cool Food Meal badge has not yet made it to all of Panera's locations, but it went live on the chain's online menu yesterday, AdAge reported.

According to a 2019 UN report, global food production accounts for 37 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, which has put pressure on food chains worldwide to limit food waste and reduce their carbon footprint, CNBC reported.

Consumers are able to lower that impact through eco-conscious food choices, Andrew Steer, president and CEO of WRI said in a press release announcing the partnership.

"As kids, we were always told to eat our vegetables — and now there's another reason to do so," Steer said.

Panera intends to increase plant-based offerings to comprise more than half of its menu options. Plant-based options currently make up one-fourth of the menu.

"There's a natural skepticism that consumers have any time companies get involved in environmental or social responsibility initiatives," Daniel Korschun, an associate marketing professor at Drexel University told CNBC. "If a company is able to make some credible claims on these types of initiatives, then it can really drive some loyalty on the part of consumers because they're purchasing more than just the product, they're purchasing an affirmation of who they are and what they stand for personally."

This is not the first time that Panera Bread has helped customers make well-informed choices. A decade ago, it became the first chain to post calorie counts of its menu items. In 2017, Panera labeled sugar amounts in beverages like lemonade, soft drinks and tea.

Rise and Resist activist group marched together to demand climate and racial justice. Steve Sanchez / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Alexandria Villaseñor

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

My journey to becoming an activist began in late 2018. During a trip to California to visit family, the Camp Fire broke out. At the time, it was the most devastating and destructive wildfire in California history. Thousands of acres and structures burned, and many lives were lost. Since then, California's wildfires have accelerated: This past year, we saw the first-ever "gigafire," and by the end of 2020, more than four million acres had burned.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a pair of climate-related secretarial orders on Friday, April 16. U.S. Department of the Interior

By Jessica Corbett

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

Read More Show Less
David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less
An Amazon.com Inc. worker walks past a row of vans outside a distribution facility on Feb. 2, 2021 in Hawthorne, California. PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP via Getty Images

Over the past year, Amazon has significantly expanded its warehouses in Southern California, employing residents in communities that have suffered from high unemployment rates, The Guardian reports. But a new report shows the negative environmental impacts of the boom, highlighting its impact on low-income communities of color across Southern California.

Read More Show Less