Daily Insights

Sweetgreen’s Stance Against Chemical Consumption

By: Mackenzie Baker | Mar 11, 2020

Sweetgreen is taking another step on its journey to sustainability.

Sweetgreen is introducing compostable bowls free of “forever chemicals”—highly toxic and fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS. When these chemicals are composted, they end up in soil, water, and foods grown through composting; the chemicals have been proven to cause health problems including cancer and thyroid disease, making it critical for brands to eliminate them. The compostable to-go bowls have already been rolled out in the brand’s San Francisco locations, with the bowls being released around the rest of the country later in the year. San Francisco was chosen for the bowl rollout because it is the first city to prohibit any single-use food ware to contain PFAS as of January 2020.  

To design the new bowls Sweetgreen partnered with Footprint, a sustainable tech company with a focus on eliminating plastics—this marks the first restaurant partnership for the brand. Later on this year, the bowls will begin to be engineered out of recycled paper—the bowls lids will also begin to be made out of a new material as they are currently made of plastic. The worst types of PFAS’s have been phased out in the United States following a strict ruling by the FDA in 2011, but they still exist in most food packaging. However, consumers are now becoming more aware of their presence and as a result, demanding alternatives. Sweetgreen’s new compostable bowls are a direct result of consumers voicing their desire to see change from big brands via social media. Like many restaurant brands, Sweetgreen is partnered with numerous delivery apps according to a Gartner report, which makes it all the more imperative the brand delivers safe, recyclable to-go containers. 

Following the release of its sustainable kelp salad, Sweetgreen is now going a step further and making its containers environmentally friendly. Restaurant brands account for a sizable portion of plastic waste and in the future could look to Sweetgreen for waste elimination strategies.