JUNE 2010

Restaurant chain utilizes PET bottle boxes

Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill® is the first restaurant chain in the country to use a new 100 percent recycled post-consumer PET Bottle Box™ container. In May, Rubio’s will roll out a new Bottle Box salad bowl, which is the first custom-made product designed by Direct Pack, Inc. and manufactured by Global PET of Perris, California, using a true bottle-to-box recycling process. The collaboration is the first in the United States to turn 100 percent post-consumer recycled PET bottles into recyclable food grade containers.

The new packaging is just one part of a new comprehensive plan for eco-friendly practices that Rubio’s has unveiled. Other initiatives include:

  • The expansion of in-store recycling.
  • An environmentally-friendly design for new restaurants.
  • Eco-friendly packaging and printing.
  • The support of local green charities.
  • Beach clean-up projects.
  • A goal to be totally Styrofoam-free and to use only compostable, reusable, recycled and/or recyclable containers by the end of 2011.

“While Rubio’s offers grilled chicken, steak and pork menu items, we’re famous for our Baja-style fish tacos and other seafood specialties; so it’s important for us to preserve a healthy ocean,” said Ralph Rubio, chairman and co-founder of Rubio’s. “We understand that of the 15 billion pounds of plastic produced each year in the United States, about ten percent of it ends up in the sea. Rubio’s sells approximately 460,000 water bottles a year, which could be recycled and used to make 115,000 Bottle Box salad bowls and lids, keeping them out of the ocean and saving approximately 37 cubic yards of landfill space.”

Craig Snedden, president of Direct Pack, Inc., said, “More than 80 percent of households in the country have access to curbside or community drop-off recycling centers, and surveys show PET bottles have the highest recycling rates of any plastic bottle types. We encourage Californians and the rest of the country to recycle so that we can do our part for the environment. Producing new plastic products from recycled materials uses two-thirds less energy than producing plastics from new raw materials, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions as well.”

Nadim Bahou, president of Global PET, added, “The Bottle Box food packages are a culmination of over half a decade of work between us and the State of California’s Department of Recycling. The California Department of Conservation supported our efforts through a grant which allowed us to bring this recycling process to life. And now, companies like Rubio’s are enhancing their green initiatives by using it in all of their United States restaurants.”

On Earth Day, Rubio’s launched a web page at www.rubios.com to share its plans and progress in using recycled, compostable, reusable or FSC certified packaging and printed materials; recycling; offering sustainable and nutritious foods; community involvement; and specifics about Rubio’s eco-friendly design elements in its new restaurants such as “smart lighting,” the broad use of recycled materials and low VOC paints.