Regenerative Cutlery at Shake Shack

Jamie Schwartz – UNI: js5849

  1. Sustainability Problem: Waste
    • Plastic cutlery is not biodegradable and as a result is polluting the planet
    • Regenerative agriculture is a philosophy growing in popularity with its focus on circularity while taking careful consideration to consider the end of life cycle of a product
    • A biodegradable version of single use cutlery has been created to hopefully alleviate this issue
  2. Article Summary:
    • California based company, Restore Foodware, has created “AirCarbon” technology that allows them to produce PHB (polyhydroxybutyrate)
    • PHB is a naturally occurring compound created by underwater microorganisms that can be replicated in a lab to form pellets that are then able to be melted and molded into the regenerative cutlery and straws by Restore Foodware (Supplemental reading: and
    • Shake Shack is lounging the pilot of the Restore Foodware cutlery at 5 of their locations, including the flagship location in Madison Square Park
    • Shake Shack has previously integrated sustainable practices into their business model, including a fully vegan option at their London based operations
    • Shake Shack is committed to continue finding ways to make their business practices more sustainable
  3. Organizational Stakeholders:
    • Restore Foodware – proprietor of AirCarbon technology and potential leader in biodegradable cutlery
    • “Traditional” plastic ware producers
    • Shake Shack and any other restaurant that could switch away from single use plastic cutlery
    • Retailers that would sell this cutlery along side (or instead of) single use plastic cutlery
    • Consumers
  4. Deployment/Implementation of Technology
    • Increase production to reduce costs
    • With increased production, secure placement in all Shake Shack locations (over 400 worldwide)
    • Currently, straws are sold online at Target, as production increases additional retail outlets should be secured (Whole Foods, etc.)
    • Bonus: as production and sales continue to scale, product line should be increased to also include food containers


One thought on “Regenerative Cutlery at Shake Shack

  1. I am more and more encouraged by the increased availability of biodegradable cutlery and bowls from my favorite NYC restaurants! I am curious however if there has been a study on the end of life on these products – a criticism of various compostable and/or biodegradable cutlery, bowls, etc. is that they cannot decompose outside of an “industrial” composting facility – which is not where most of this material ends up. Given the limited availability of composting options in a city like NY, I wonder if the cost-benefits on these products is as great as we think it is or if there are further considerations that need to be made for non-virgin plastic materials (but of course single-use plastic should go away ASAP!)


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