Just Salad, the restaurant pioneer of reusable packaging with its reusable bowl program for the past 15 years, last month introduced a “bring your own cup” program. While not the first of its kind, it allows customers to bring in their own cups for the chain’s signature plant-based smoothies, which were previously packaged in disposables.
“The environmental benefits of reusables are clear,” chief sustainability officer for Just Salad Sandra Noonan told Nation’s Restaurant News. “Reusables save water, energy, carbon emissions, and natural resources, and the benefits get bigger the more you reuse. We work hard to make reusables easy, rewarding, and safe for our customers.”
Just Salad joins chains like Starbucks, Panera and Dunkin’, which have bring-your-own-cup programs for coffee – but this is one of the first such programs for smoothies.
“We’re heartened that large coffee and beverage chains are also allowing customers to bring in reusable cups,” Noonan said.
Smoothie portions are standard, so there’s no need to worry about the sizing depending on cup sizes.
Outside containers are handled the same way as the reusable bowls, with tongs and gloves, so there is no cross-contamination with the sterilized and health-code certified items in the Just Salad kitchens.
“Our plant-based smoothies have been a hit with our customers, and we wanted to ensure we could bring that same ethos to this popular menu category as well,” said Noonan.
Despite the extra work to ensure cleanliness, Noonan feels it’s worth it to save the planet.
“It's something we can do every day to preserve natural resources and reduce carbon emissions,” she said.
Stainless steel and polypropylene cups have the lowest impact compared to single-use cups if they are washed and used past the “break-even point” of six times, according to a recent study from Upstream that Noonan cited.
Just Salad releases an annual sustainability report tracking how the chain has impacted the environment each year and how new or old initiatives have performed each year.