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10/25/2021

Panera Bread commits to climate positive target

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Panera Bread is taking a positive approach to its climate impact.

Panera Bread intends to become climate positive – removing more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits – by 2050.

The first national fast-casual restaurant company to set a climate positive target, Panera has updated its Food Beliefs to include climate goals. According to Panera, reaching this goal equates to removing approximately 2.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents each year as compared to Panera’s 2019 greenhouse gas baseline. This is equal to the amount of carbon sequestered by 2.96 million acres of forest per year, an area 14 times the size of New York City.

Since 2017, Panera has already reduced emissions from its operations by 15% per square foot, meeting its 2022 target one year early.

Panera is also pursuing the 2025 short-term targets of transitioning to 100% circular (reusable, recyclable and compostable) packaging to reduce its footprint, as well as using green, renewable electricity for at least 50% of its owned operations.

Panera is developing a long-term roadmap to reduce its emissions in line with a 1.5°C science-based target, committing to first reduce its carbon footprint and then use credible carbon removal and sequestration projects to reach its goal of becoming climate positive.

These actions build on Panera’s ongoing sustainability efforts. In 2020, in collaboration with World Resources Institute (WRI), Panera was the first national restaurant company to label Cool Food Meals on its menu— meals that have a low impact on the climate. More than half of Panera entrees are Cool Food Meals.

“Climate change is one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time, and we must act now for our planet,” said Niren Chaudhary, CEO, Panera Bread. “We embrace the responsibility to take immediate and relentless action to create positive change and hope that our industry will follow us. We are sharing our vision for a climate positive future to inspire both our industry and our supply chain partners to take urgent, decisive and clear action.”

“Panera has a long history of making tough, conscious choices about the food system, from serving chicken raised without antibiotics beginning in 2004 to being first to label calories on the menu,” said Sara Burnett, VP food beliefs & sustainability, Panera Bread. “With the launch of Cool Food Meals in 2020, Panera recognized the impact of your plate is much bigger than a calorie count; it also has an impact on the planet. As a continuation of our journey, we are committing to our ambitious goal and to work with others in our industry to make this vision for a climate-positive future a reality.”

Another retailer that recently set ambitious carbon goals is eBay. The e-commerce giant is setting a greenhouse gas (GHG) target approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The company is pledging to reduce its own scope 1 and scope 2 emissions 90% by 2030 from a 2019 base year, in line with limiting global temperature warming to 1.5 degrees, aligned with the Paris Agreement.

As of Sept. 28, 2021, there were 2,120 bakery-cafes in 48 states, Washington, D.C., and Ontario, Canada, operating under the Panera Bread or Saint Louis Bread Co. names.