Sustainability Series

Making Waves in Water Conservation

what we're doing in our restaurants to help conserve one of the world's most precious resources
what we're doing in our restaurants to help conserve one of the world's most precious resources

Water is an invaluable part of our business at Chipotle, so we're diligently looking for opportunities to conserve water. We're focused on reducing water usage at our restaurants by constantly making improvements in three main areas: Design, Facilities & Procedures
and Data Gathering.


In the last few years, we've implemented some major water-saving changes to our restaurant design and equipment: 

innovative, efficient equipment

we’re always on the lookout for the lates in: 

-	low flow toilets
-	low flow urinals
-	low flow faucets
-	low flow spray valves

to cut down on daily water consumption.

In 2015 we rolled out a new low flow dish sink sprayer that reduces water usage by 0.35 gallons per minute (GPM) from our previous model.

Over 2,000 restaurants worldwide reduce water usage by 0.35 GPM

Saving 700 gallons every minute = x14 bath tubs

Reducing usage inside and out 

In drought-prone areas like California, we use native and drought-tolerant plants in our landscaping to reduce exterior water use.

New restaurants, new approach

At many of our new, freestanding restaurants, we include on-site water retention for rainwater, when permissible. Rather than sending rainwater directly into the storm water system, on-site retention allows soil to naturally rehydrate itself, thus reducing the need for irrigation.

facilities & Procedures

Our Facilities Team teaches our restaurant teams how to make simple repairs and perform basic, preventative maintenance on equipment to maximize efficiency and provide the best in-store experience for our customers. 

Making a list, checking it twice

Part of this regular maintenance include completing an ownership checklist that itemizes all the water-consuming equipment in our restaurants, making it easy to identify any water that might be wasted and fix minor leaks.

When in drought

In 2015, several of our markets were faced with drought-based water restrictions. In order to do our part to reduce water consumption in these areas, we created the water usage guide — a list of tips and best practices for reducing water usage both in and outside the restaurants (including reduced use of patio misters, reduced frequency of pressure washing and outdoor patio rinsing, and increased checks for toilet and faucet leaks.

We’ve seen that leaking toilets in our restaurants can sometimes double daily water usage. This is why we emphasize preventative maintenance of this equipment on our ownership checklist. 

-	1 leaky toilet = 2x daily water usage 
additionally, all new restaurants are given a faucet repair kit to fix minor leaks.

Data Gathering

The greatest tool we have for reducing Chipotle's water impact at the restaurant level is data. Our Environmental Impact Team pulls from multiple sources of data to uncover hidden opportunities for reducing water usage. 

Using numbers to uncover savings

We work closely with our utility broker as well as a local water utility provider to identify restaurants with excessive water use and work to reduce their usage, particularly in key usage areas (cleaning, restrooms, foos prep, and water for soda and ice)/ we also look for trends and opportunities that can inform best practices across all our restaurants.

one drop at a time

Water continues to be an important area of focus for Chipotle, as we work to reduce and improve our company's environmental impact. With an emphasis on how we design and maintain our restaurants, train our teams, and gather and communicate results, we're constantly working to create a more robust and impactful water stewardship program. Check out more from our Sustainability Series articles below to learn about other ways in which we're making moves towards better-for-the-world business in all that we do.