Just Salad CEO: Reusable bowls are 'the best solution' for food safety and sustainability, for now

Chelsea Lombardo
Production Assistant

More and more people are making smarter and safer eating decisions and some fast casual chains are paying attention.

Just Salad offers customers a reusable plastic bowl option instead of the disposable fiber ones. Just Salad CEO Nick Kenner told Yahoo Finance’s On The Move that only 15% to 20% of Just Salad’s customers were using the reusable bowls when it first launched in 2006, but now that number has jumped.

“We're now at about 30%,” Kenner stated. “The growth of the reusable bowl has been dramatic. And I think people are fed up with throwing out a tremendous amount of plastic, fiber ball, whatever it is. The gig is up. Recycling is not a solution.”

On Monday, the New Food Economy reported that the compostable bowls, which are used by restaurant chains like Chipotle and Sweetgreen, contain cancer-linked chemicals.

While Kenner is concerned about the reports, he also said the solution probably isn’t for everyone to go “all plastic,” which may contain its own bad chemicals. But for now “this is the best solution in terms of food safety and sustainability,” he said.

Just Salad customers can purchase a reusable bowl in stores for just $1, and upon use they will be rewarded with free extra toppings. The chain claims the bowls help save over 75,000 lbs. of plastic every year.

Company growth ‘pretty dramatic’

Over the past two years, same store sales are up over 30%, according to Kenner, “which is pretty dramatic. We're growing close to 50% top line a year. We've been around since 2006. Frankly, [we] haven't grown that way every year. So, the last few years, certainly, there is a movement to people eating healthier and faster.

By the end of the year, Just Salad expects to have 50 company-owned locations. It recently opened its first U.S. franchise location in Raleigh, N.C. Just Salad already has five franchise locations in Dubai.

Chelsea Lombardo is a production assistant for Yahoo Finance. You can find more of her work here.

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