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Zero-Waste Disposable Lunch Bowls Are a Lie

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Plus, restaurants along Coney Island’s boardwalk face unprecedented rent hikes — and more intel

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Orange steelhead trout sits over a Green Goddess salad at Sweetgreen Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Many of Sweetgreen’s “Green” Bowls Have Actually Been Going to the Landfill

For more than a decade, signs in Sweetgreen have assured customers, “Nothing from inside Sweetgreen goes to the landfill” — promoting a brand of environmental responsibility that draws people to its $15 salads. But it turns out, that line is not exactly true, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.

The bowls, takeout containers, cutlery, and cups at Sweetgreen are all technically disposable, but in many of the company’s biggest markets, municipal composting can’t keep up with the sheer quantity of waste that’s produced. In New York, Sweetgreen needed to hire an independent contractor to collect the food scraps from seven of its restaurants and bring them to a processing facility upstate so that they didn’t end up in a landfill. That trash may have ended up in a landfill anyway.

Part of the problem is that restaurants can only account for waste collected on-site; as soon as a container leaves the space, they trust diners to dispose of it correctly — and many people do not. It’s an issue that more and more restaurants face, especially as companies aim to be reduce waste. Only a few hundred of the nation’s 4,000 composting facilities accept food scraps — while even fewer process bioplastics, which Sweetgreen’s containers are made from.

In 2018, New York’s “Zero Waste” initiative collected over 43,000 tons of food waste, but that accounted for just five percent of the food waste New York sent to the landfill that year.

In other news:

— Coney Island restaurants and small businesses — including Nathan’s Famous, Ruby’s Bar & Grill, and Tom’s Restaurant — are facing rent hikes ranging from 50 percent to 400 percent as they re-negotiate 10-year leases.

Darra Goldstein, Russian scholar and founder of Gastronomica, will be hosting a tasting party at Brooklyn-based meadery Honey’s to celebrate the release of her new book Beyond the North Wind. Honey’s chefs Zola Phillips and Leanne Tran will prepare a selection of zakuski, traditional savory dishes, plus desserts from Goldstein’s book. The $55 ticket includes entrance, food, and an infused vodka cocktail.

Gristedes — the supermarket chain whose rotisserie chicken was once likened to the Fly’s by critic Ryan Sutton — will close one of its doors at 71 South End Avenue, near West Thames later this month due to rent increases.

— A fast-casual restaurant making vegetable-heavy lunch bowls arrives in Nolita on Friday. The new addition called October might just sound like a vegetarian Sweetgreen. The twist? It grows its own herbs and greens in-house with hydroponic gardens.

— Nobody expected children to love nonalcoholic cocktails as much as they do, but here we are.

— The Center for Disease Control and Prevention finally says lettuce is fine now.

— A reminder that this incredible cardamom bun exists in New York:

Nathan’s Famous

761 7th Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10019 (212) 767-8347 Visit Website

The Fly

549 Classon Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

sweetgreen

67 Wall Street, Manhattan, NY 10005 (212) 487-9030 Visit Website

Tom’s Restaurant

782 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238 (718) 636-9738 Visit Website

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