New Found Economy conducted a comprehensive investigation on the compostable fiber bowls found at 14 locations of 8 NYC-based restaurants, including Chipotle, Dig Inn, and Sweetgreen. Those sampled containers all tested positive for high levels of fluorine. According to a whole bunch of experts like Notre Dame chemist Graham Peaslee, this indicates per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) compounds.
In case you're not well versed on PFAS, here's a quick rundown. They hold together your paper product so that your hot and greasy food won't tear it to shreds. But per the United States Environmental Protection Agency, these chemicals are "very persistent in the environment and in the human body—meaning they don't break down and they can accumulate over time." The EPA also reports these compounds can cause cancer, developmental issues, and reproductive problems.
Translation: They're bad for you and the earth.
New Food Economy's claims also reveal something interesting about our fav eco-friendly brands like Chipotle, who confirmed in 2018 that 100 percent of their bowls were "made from compostable, plant-based fiber."
"As evidenced in Chipotle’s Sustainability Report, we are committed to using safe and sustainable food packaging and only partner with suppliers who make fluorochemical sciences and food safety a top priority," a representative for Chipotle told Delish. "These suppliers operate under strict guidelines set forth by the FDA, and have all provided Chipotle with certification that all raw material and finished pulp products fully meet regulatory requirements."
Delish reached out to Sweetgreen for comment, but we have not received a response at the time of publication. (We will update this story accordingly.) However, the salad chain did affirm their dedication to degradable materials back in 2017, tweeting, "all our takeout bowls, utensils, straws, and napkins are 100% compostable!"
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