Panera Bread announced its commitment to become climate positive – removing more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits – by 2050, its updated Food Beliefs states. As approximately 25% of global greenhouse gases are created by food production, Panera aims to turn things around in its manufacturing processes.
Reaching this climate positive goal means 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.
“Climate change is one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time, and we must act now for our planet. 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,” said Niren Chaudhary, CEO, Panera Bread.
Panera wants to take immediate action to reduce its impact as it pursues the following 2025 short term targets:
- Increasing the percentage of Cool Food Meals to 60% of bakery-cafe entrees.
- Transitioning to 100% circular – reusable, recyclable and compostable – packaging.
- Using green, renewable electricity for at least 50% of Panera Bread owned operations.
It is estimated that between both the climate commitments of G20 countries and those of individual companies worldwide, the rate of decarbonization falls well below what is needed to keep warming to 1.5°C. In response, Panera is developing a long-term roadmap to reduce its emissions in line with a 1.5°C science-based target, committing to first significantly reduce its carbon footprint and then become climate positive.
“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. “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.”
These actions build on Panera’s ongoing efforts to help guests eat with the planet in mind. One year ago, in collaboration with World Resources Institute (WRI), Panera was the first national restaurant company to label Cool Food Meals on its menu—those meals that have a low impact on the climate. More than half of Panera entrees are Cool Food Meals.