Just Salad, fast-casual restaurant concept with a mission to make everyday health and sustainability possible, on Thursday released its Annual Impact Report detailing the company’s progress in achieving waste-free, climate-smart dining across stores during 2021, as well as several first-time actions taken to embed environmental sustainability into its operations.
Key highlights presented throughout the report include the following:
Carbon Labels Receive Third-Party Verification
Just Salad strives to empower customers with the transparent information needed to make lower-impact food choices, which is why the brand partnered with Planet FWD, a leading carbon management platform, to take its carbon labeling efforts to the next level. As of March 2022, Just Salad’s carbon labels are third-party verified by Planet FWD™, showing full cradle-to-grave emissions estimates for each menu item. These estimates enable Just Salad to curate a Climatarian menu featuring its lowest-emissions options and make targeted sustainability improvements to its menu overall, with carbon footprint per ingredient as a key consideration in recipe development.
Life Cycle Analysis of Reusable Bowl Shows Benefits of Reuse
Just Salad’s Reusable Bowl (“MyBowl”) program has been available to customers for on-premise ordering across all locations since the company was founded in 2006 – making Just Salad home to the longest running reusables program in the fast-casual restaurant industry. In 2021, Just Salad partnered with the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute at the Rochester Institute of Technology (NYP2I) to conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) comparing the overall environmental impacts of its MyBowls against single-use disposable salad bowls. In an effort to understand the “break-even point” – the number of times the MyBowl must be used for its impact to be less than disposable bowls – the LCA evaluated the carbon emissions and water use associated with each bowl at each stage of its life cycle. The results of this analysis are provided in the report.
Sustainable Packaging Solutions
As part of its efforts to create the most convenient, waste-free ordering experience for customers, Just Salad continues to prioritize its innovative reusable packaging solutions. As a result of its Reusable Bowl program, over three tons of single-use waste were avoided in 2021. With respect to disposable packaging, Just Salad seeks to maximize recyclability and recycled content. In 2021, as part of an internal audit guided by SASB (Sustainable Accounting Standards Board) standards, Just Salad estimated that 91% of its disposable food service packaging was made from recycled and/or renewable materials, and 90% of its packaging was recyclable, reusable, and/or compostable.
In an effort to provide multiple ways for customers to access reusable packaging solutions, Just Salad expanded its partnership with Deliver Zero to offer reusable containers for pickup and delivery orders on DoorDash and Caviar. Through Deliver Zero, customers can choose to have their order built in a reusable DeliverZero container. Then, they can return it to the Just Salad location they ordered from or any store within the DeliverZero network.
Additional packaging initiatives detailed within the report include:
Bring Your Own Cup: In 2021, Just Salad relaunched its Bring Your Own Cup (BYOC) program for smoothie orders, giving customers the choice to avoid single-use paper cups.
Single-Use Utensil Opt-Out: On the Just Salad app and orderjustsalad.com, customers are asked to indicate yes or no for disposable utensils. Just Salad offers a $0.10 discount on delivery orders that opt-out of utensils. In 2021, the utensil opt-out feature on orderjustsalad.com avoided over 2,200 lbs of unnecessary waste.
Dine-In Bowls: Often in the fast casual restaurant industry, customers receive their orders in disposable packaging even if they plan to dine on site. That’s why Just Salad continues to introduce dine-in bowls at locations with sufficient seating capacity.
First-Time Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and Internal Waste Audits
Just Salad for the first time completed a greenhouse gas emissions inventory, conducted by the consultancy Green Places, across the entirety of its 2021 operations, including Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions. The company also invested in store waste audits showing significant progress toward diverting more than 90% of daily waste from landfills, and started selling surplus food via Too Good to Go to achieve quantifiable reductions in waste-related emissions.
“The time has come for radical solutions – to the never-ending stream of single-use waste; to the lack of transparency about the environmental impacts of our food and packaging choices; to the systemic obstacles to reducing food waste; and so much more,” said Sandra Noonan, Chief Sustainability Officer at Just Salad. “I want to thank the many partners who supported Just Salad over the past year as we sought to tackle these big problems.”