Environmental Leadership

SUBWAY® stores are best known for our commitment to providing freshly baked bread and ingredients to our customers. Behind the scenes, we have been working diligently to improve the sustainability of our products and operations. In fact, we are on a journey to make our stores and operations as environmentally and socially responsible as possible, and to help improve the health of the planet at the same time.
  • Globally, the plants and distribution centers that we use have been strategically located to significantly reduce transportation costs, fuel usage and carbon emissions. In the UK alone, we have cut miles by over 40,000 per annum by adding new depots to the distribution network for food and produce, and bringing them closer to stores. 
Over the last few years, we have switched to more sustainable products and business practices that use less energy and resources and generate less waste. We are working on other initiatives - some highlights include:
  • Improved sustainability of the packaging and paper products used in our stores; many items now contain recycled material and can be recycled - for example, our salad bowls and lids are made from 95% recycled Cola bottles!
  • Improved the energy efficiency of the equipment and lighting used in our stores
  • Low flow taps are a standard option in all new stores to help conserve water
  • Optimised packaging of ingredients which has removed at least 650 tonnes of cardboard from our waste stream each year
  • Cleaner clemicals (with the exeption of the sanitizer and delimer) are non-toxic, non-corrosive and are biodegradable

Recycling your SUBWAY packaging

The SUBWAY® chain is committed to recycling packaging where possible as it saves natural resources and helps to reduce global warming. SUBWAY® stores recycle their own packaging where they can, for example, cardboard and ingredient containers, but you can also do your bit to help the environment by recycling the food and drink packaging that you take away with you. The following list indicates what you should and shouldn't be able to recycle at home, from your workplace, school or via your local Household Waste Recycling Centre. To check, take a look at the 'recycle-more' website: www.recycle-more.co.uk. You can put in your post code and find out what recycling facilities exist near you and what materials they do and don't take.

Widely recyclable

The following should be recyclable in most locations:

  • Plastic drink bottles - made of PET plastic and widely recycled 
  • Metal drink cans - made of aluminium and widely recycled
  • Cardboard drink trays - these are widely recyclable with other cardboard
  • Paper cookie bags - these are just paper and can be recycled with other paper
  • Cardboard boxes for nachos - these are paper plus a plant based materials (the clear window) and can be recycled with paper
  • Napkins - if these are reasonably clean, they can be recycled with other paper
  • Sugar, salt and pepper sachets - these are paper and (once emptied!) can be recycled with paper
  • Plastic Sub bags - these are made of HDPE and can generally be recycled at larger supermarkets along with carrier bags
  • Wooden stirrers - these can be recycled at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre with other wood or they can be composted in a home composting bin, or with some food waste collections from home or work. Check with your local authority or waste contractor. 
  • Sub Wraps - these can be recycled with other paper

May or may not be recycled

The following items may or may not be recyclable depending on the collection arrangements in place locally:

  • Plastic salad and soup bowls and lids - these are made of PET. The clear lid at least should be recyclable with clear plastic bottles. The black bowls may also be recyclable in some locations.
  • Paper cups and paper soup bowls - these are mainly paper but they have a thin plastic polyethylene (PE) coating which makes them water proof
  • Plastic knives, forks, spoons, and straws are made of polypropylene (PP)
  • Cold cup lids, hot cup lids and soup bowl lids are made of polystyrene (PS)

Not generally recyclable

The following items are generally not recyclable due to the fact that they use a mixture of materials, e.g plastic and aluminium foil. This keeps the product fresh for longer, but the materials are hard to separate and recycle:

  • Crisp packets
  • Snack bar/chocolate wrappers
  • Sauce sachets

Efficient In-store Operations

SUBWAY® restaurants are individually owned and are operated by independent franchisees. Working with the non-profit, franchisee-owned, European Independent Purchasing Company Ltd (EIPC), we strive to provide our franchisees with the best solutions to help them improve their operations focusing on energy efficiency, resource conservation, waste reduction and food safety (see Sustainable Sourcing).

Energy Efficiency

By design and the nature of our product offering, our operations are fairly energy efficient but as energy costs continue to rise it is important to improve the energy efficiency of our restaurants.

  • Lighting and electronic signage are important components of our stores. Over the past few years we have been improving their energy efficiency. Some franchisees now use LED lighting in their stores. The 'Open' sign seen on the front of all stores uses LEDs as standard.
  • In Europe, one of our oven proofer models is now manufactured with a new low-voltage lighting system resulting in increased lamp life and reduction in energy consumption.
  • One of the back counter chillers used in the UK and Ireland uses hydrocarbon as a refrigerant which saves up to 13% more energy than existing products.

Water Conservation

Low Flow Water Faucets

Many regions around the world are beginning to experience varying degrees of water stress due to increases in population, weather pattern changes or adequate water management infrastructure that can result in inadequate supply of safe drinking water.   We recognize how important it is to conserve water and use it wisely.


Waste Reduction

We are working on ways to reduce our waste stream with a goal of having as close to zero waste to landfill as possible.

Waste Reduction StatoiStores can use recycling bins and are also required to maintain a litter free environment. 

We have worked with our suppliers to optimise how our products are packaged to reduce waste streams for breads, meats, cheeses, sauces, produce, paper products and cleaning products used in our stores. For example:  

  • In 2009, we moved from cans to pouches for our tuna, which require less energy to package and transport. This change is estimated to have saved 374 tonnes of cardboard and taken 118 trucks off the road across Europe each year since it was introduced.
  • In 2010, we increased the number of white bread sticks in a box from 75 to 80, without increasing the size of the box. It's estimated that this change saves 55 tonnes of cardboard, two tonnes of plastic and removes 76 trucks from the roads across Europe each year
  • In 2010, we worked with our pickle and pepper suppliers in Europe to reduce the amount of brine. This means we can ship 29% more product in the same amount of packaging, saving around 47,000 cardboard boxes per year. It also reduces road miles as we ship the same amount of product in fewer trucks
  • Today, franchisees have the option to portion some ingredients using a reusable scoop. This process eliminates the need to pre-prepare portions in paper food trays and removes additional packaging from our waste stream.

Other sustainable practices used in the UK and Ireland stores include:

  • Furniture is not manufactured with or does not contain ozone depleting substances.
  • Cleaning supplies used in our stores (with the exception of the sanitizer) are non toxic & non corrosive. The cleaning products are concentrated with a dosage control to reduce packaging waste and are manufactured without phosphates, NPEs and APEs to ensure biodegradability. Their packaging contains recycled material and can be recycled


Our goal is to only use packaging that can be recycled or composted where facilities exist.

Over the past four years, we have been working very hard to improve the sustainability of our packaging and to eliminate unnecessary packaging wherever possible. We continue to look for ways to increase the recycled content, recyclability, degradability and compostability of our packaging where feasible and cost effective. We have redesigned items to be more multi-functional, to be made with more sustainable materials and/or with less material.

The majority of our paper packaging is made with recycled content can be recycled (where commercial facilities exist).

  • Recycled MaterialsNapkins are made from 100% recycled fiber with up to 40% post-consumer content and are processed chlorine-free. They are printed with soy or water-based inks.
  • PackagingSandwich wrap contains 30-40% recycled material
  • Specialty bags contain 50% recycled material
  • Plastic salad bowls and lids are made from 95% post-consumer recycled material are recyclable
  • Sandwich platters are made from 50% post-consumer recycled material and the platter bags are made from 40% recycled material. Both are recyclable

We believe that the most sustainable practice is to reduce “single-use” packaging where feasible. Our franchisees have the option to serve their dine-in guests with a reusable basket lined with deli paper. This approach minimises the associated waste stream and improves the meal presentation.

To further reduce bag usage, stores have the option of using a sticker to individually wrapped Subs for takeaway which eliminated the need for a bag. 

Through other sustainable packaging solutions put in place in the UK and Ireland, we have moved:

  • From polystyrene to paper in the bowls used for soup and meatballs. The paper used in the production of the bowls comes from Sustainable Forestry Initiative Certified suppliers. 
  • From a triple-wall to a double-wall hot cup, which is estimated to save 30 tonnes of pulp per year across Europe. It also takes approximately 25% less energy to produce. 
  • To a pulp moulded four-cup carrier made with 100% recycled content, which is also fully recyclable

More Environmental Facts

  • We source “green” materials – such as cup carriers, napkins, salad bowls, utensils and paper towels – which are high in recycled content and can be recycled, composted or easily degraded once they enter the waste stream again.
  • Our Operational Efficiency program looks for way s to ensure all travel routes are optimized and that all trucks are full. We examined the location of many of our distribution centers and have worked with several suppliers to move facilities to be closer to distribution centers, reducing our transportation foot print even further. Since realigning our distribution network, we have saved 17,000 shipments annually and reduced travel miles by over 15 million annually.


Our Customer Service team receives questions everyday from people like you all around the world. We’ve compiled a list of the most popular ones – perhaps these might have some of the answers you are looking for.

Contact Customer Service

Your feedback and questions are important to us so feel free to tell us about your SUBWAY experience. Click on the link below to contact our Customer Service team.