Answer: Chipotle Workers Go Through 375 Million Gloves Per Year
Next time you dine at Chipotle, keep an eye out for one thing: the number of times the workers change their gloves. It’s probably not something you notice while you’re ordering your burrito or thinking about whether or not to get guacamole (even though you know it costs extra), but it’s a ritual that is done hundreds of thousands of times every year at single stores alone. You see, Chipotle workers are required to swap gloves hourly, plus any time they switch tasks. Even if a worker doesn’t switch tasks – which seems highly improbable – this is a minimum 8 glove-changes a day assuming a 9-5 shift. Bottom line, these old dirty gloves pile up quickly and 95% of them end of in landfills.
So what’s being done? Well, one Little Rock-based company called Revolution Bag is trying to solve the issue. Founded in 2010, the company manufactures garbage bags from recycled plastic and then sells them to clients like Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and the city of Austin. Inc noted that in 2018, “, Revolution quietly began a pilot program with Chipotle to collect used gloves from a handful of restaurants and melt them down to create bags. Now the pilot is expanding to 25 total restaurants on the West Coast. Its success will determine whether the program goes nationwide.” This is a heroic effort seeing as how on average, each Chipotle store goes through 150,000 gloves per year.
Revolution Bag is truly “revolutionary” because traditional recycling facilities can’t process polyethylene gloves. This means that Chipotle ends up throwing an estimated 375 million gloves per year across all its locations into a landfill. The process is relatively simple as well. According to Inc, “employees drop their used gloves into a cardboard box. Once the box fills up, it’s sealed and shipped to Revolution’s plant in Salinas, California. The gloves then are cleaned, shredded, and turned into tiny pellets that are melted down to form the bags.” The goal is to get Chipotle’s restaurants in the western U.S.–about 500 of the chain’s more than 2,000 U.S. eateries–participate in the program by the end of 2019.