Back in March 2008, Boloco, a chain of burrito restaurants, became the first fast-casual chain in New England to become a Certified Green Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA). But when Boloco found out an even higher level of certification could be achieved, the company decided to reach for the stars. Boloco is now the first chain (more than 10 units) of restaurants to become a 2 Star Certified Green Restaurant across all of their 17 locations.
For each of Boloco’s 17 locations to earn the GRA’s rigorous two-star certification, they had to be inspected and graded on a points system for the following: water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable food, energy, disposables, and chemical and pollution reduction.
To earn points in these categories, Boloco made changes such as switching each location’s spray valves to high efficiency and low flow, ensuring 50 percent of chemicals were either GreenSeal certified or endorsed by the GRA, and integrating composting for kitchen waste.
In addition to meeting a minimum requirement of earned points in each category and accumulating no less than 100 points total, the GRA also verified that Boloco had a full-scale recycling program, operated completely Styrofoam-free, and provided annual education on environmental responsibility for their employees.
During the initial certification phase four years ago, Boloco took several important steps in an effort to achieve a “green”-worthy status, reduce its environmental footprint, and increase sustainable practices. These included the implementation of a recycling program, the introduction of naturally raised meats and organic t-shirts for employees, and the replacement of Styrofoam cups with compostable ones.
Even after making this progress, Boloco’s CEO John Pepper considers the company’s work far from done.
“The best part about the GRA’s certification program is that it encourages continual change,” Pepper says. “Next year our restaurants will be inspected again and graded for improvement. At Boloco we feel there is room for improvement in everything we do, so this is perfect for us.”