Industry News | March 23, 2011

Get Fresh, Save the Earth

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Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, a fast-casual fresh Mexican chain, announced the nationwide rollout of its industry pioneering Earth Fresh Initiative.

In December 2009, Baja Fresh began testing a number of environmentally friendly serving products including: recycled/recyclable paper and plastic bags, unbleached recyclable burrito wrapping paper, and biodegradable plates. After receiving positive feedback from both guests and operators, the chain has moved forward with companywide implementation of the products.

“The chain is taking a proactive approach as many guests have told us about their desire and priority of recycling and preservation of natural resources, while recognizing the importance of maintaining the integrity and quality of the products in which we serve our food," says Charles Rink, president of Baja Fresh. "These new products are an excellent way to accomplish this goal in tandem with helping the environment.”

Baja Fresh now only uses burrito wraps that are unbleached and made from 100 percent recycled materials. Utilizing unbleached burrito wraps versus bleached paper wraps have a significant impact on the world’s resources including; a 46 percent reduction in waste water, 21 percent reduction in wood pulp use, 16 percent reduction in solid waste, and a 10 percent reduction in green house gas production. For every 1,000 tons of natural paper produced versus bleached paper of the same weight, 6,089 trees will be saved, 15 full swimming pools of waste water will be removed, and 13 garbage trucks of solid waste will be eliminated.

Additionally, Baja Fresh paper bags are now unbleached and contain a minimum of 70 percent postconsumer material. The company’s plastic to-go bags are also earth friendly as each bag is made with at least 50 percent recycled materials. Both the paper and plastic bags are 100 percent recyclable and only water-based ink is used to print on the plastic bags, which in turn lowers their carbon footprint.

The new plates are designed to disintegrate and biodegrade swiftly and safely in a professionally managed composting facility. The plates are certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI identifies products that meet stringent scientifically-based specifications for compostability), and the natural fibers with which they are produced are a byproduct of wheat harvest. This type of renewable resource is an alternative to polystyrene foam and conventional molded fiber.

“Baja Fresh recognizes the importance of the earth’s resources and our customers’ penchant to conserve them. By offering our products in biodegradable, recycled, and recyclable packaging, not only are we meeting the requests of our guests, but also those of the environment," Rink says. "We will continue to seek environmentally friendly solutions for additional products used in serving Baja Fresh menu items, and we look forward to the success of these and all of our future earth friendly serving products in our restaurants.”