Environmental Leadership

Subway® restaurants are best known for our commitment to providing fresh ingredients and healthier food alternatives 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 restaurants and operations as environmentally and socially responsible as possible and to help improve the health of the planet at the same time.
  • In 2010 alone, our initiatives in North America cut carbon emissions by 104,586 metric tons, which is equivalent to reducing annual oil consumption by 238,000 barrels.
  • Globally, the plants and distribution centers that we use have been strategically located to significantly reduce transportation costs, fuel usage and carbon emissions. We estimate that this saves 21.8 million truck miles and more than 3.6 million gallons of diesel in the US & Canada annually. In the UK alone, we have cut road miles by over 400,000 by adding new depots to the distribution network for food and produce, and bringing them closer to restaurants.
Over the past several years, we have switched to products and business practices that use less energy & resources, generate less waste and we are working on others. In the process, we’ve discovered that even small changes add up. Some highlights include:
  • All new and remodeled restaurants now use energy efficient lighting saving electricity as well as low flow water faucets saving an estimated 182.1 million gallons of water annually.
  • Today, the majority of the packaging used in our restaurants in North America is made with recycled content and 100% can be recycled or composted (where facilities exist). We are in the process of moving to these packaging specifications globally.
  • First Eco Restaurant - FranceCurrently there are 14 SUBWAY® Eco Restaurants open and operating.  These restaurants are designed and built to be more energy efficient; conserve water and reduce waste.  Three of the Eco Restaurants are US Green Building Council Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified.  The remaining Eco Restaurants are certified using an internal process similar to the LEED process. The first eco store in Europe was built in France in 2011 and has obtained the French ecological label HQE (High Environmental Quality) and HPE (High Environmental Protection). These designations mean that the store has a low environmental impact and uses less energy).
 

Efficient In-restaurant Operations

SUBWAY® restaurants are individually owned and are operated by independent franchisees. Working with the non-profit our non-profit, franchisee owned, Independent Purchasing Cooperatives or Companies (IPCs) 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.

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 restaurants and are big users of energy in our stores. Over the past few years we have been improving their energy efficiency. Starting in 2007 we shifted all new and remodeled restaurants to high efficiency lighting and made LED exterior signage optional in 2008. Last year we began to move to using interior LED signage and early this year we began the transition to LED lighting for sandwich units.
  • Our standard equipment for new restaurants includes energy efficient digital ovens & HVAC (heating, ventilating and cooling) systems as well as Energy Star-rated ice machines, refrigerated back counters and reach in coolers and freezers.
  • 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.
  • The back counter chiller used in the UK and Ireland uses hydrocarbon as a refrigerant which saves up to 13% more energy than existing products.
  • We are in the process of piloting the use of additional energy saving equipment, features and processes such as LED interior lighting.
 

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.

As of 2006, low-flow faucets/taps that increase the water pressure for rinsing are standard for all new Subway restaurants. This small change saves 182.1 million gallons of water annually. Also, many franchisees have installed motion sensors on hand sinks and/or low flow faucets and dual flush toilets in their restaurant rest rooms, further reducing their water usage. And some franchisees have installed rain gardens, storm water pollution prevention systems, native ground cover and efficient landscape irrigation systems to further reduce their water usage.

In 2007, we worked with our pickle and pepper suppliers in the US to reduce the amount of brine. As a result we are able to save 739,000 gallons of water, 130,000 lbs. of plastic and 559,000 pounds of corrugate resources on an annual basis. It also reduces road miles as we ship the same amount of product in fewer trucks. This change has been rolled out in Mexico as well as Europe.

 

Waste Reduction

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

Waste Reduction StatoiFor many years, recycling and composting bins have been available for franchisees wishing to recycle/compost. In fact, restaurants in San Francisco and Seattle are composting all their food waste. Our restaurants are required to maintain a litter free environment and we encourage our customers to recycle.

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

  •  Our sauces and most of our tuna have are now in film pouches which require less energy to package and transport and removes 6 million pounds of corrugate from our waste stream annually.
  • By removing the paper interleaf between our sliced cheeses, an additional 450,000 pounds of paper has been removed from our waste stream annually.
  • Today, franchisees have the option to portion some ingredients using a scoop. This process eliminates the need to pre-prep portions in food trays and removes additional packaging from our waste stream annually.

Examples of other sustainable practices used in North America restaurants include:

  • Working with our suppliers we’ve improved the sustainability of our cleaning supplies. With the exception of the sanitizer, all approved cleaning chemicals and hand soap used in our restaurants are either Green Seal or certified by California Air Resource Board (CARB) as well as EPS Safe Detergents Stewardship. They are manufactured without phosphates or ammonia and don’t contain volatile organic chemicals (VOC’s) and are biodegradable. By shifting to concentrated cleaning strips, we eliminated the need to ship water and remove 177,000 pounds of plastic and 154,150 pounds of corrugate form our waste stream each year.
  • Our mops are now “greener”. The mop heads are made using recycled plastic bottles (60% and recycled cotton socks & T- shirts (40%). The mop head is made with 100% post-consumer polypropylene (recycle plastic bottle caps). The mops are more absorbent and a portion of the proceeds is donated to HeRO, a non-profit organization that builds nutrition centers in elementary schools in Honduras; helping eradicate hunger and encourage childhood education.
  • Furniture is not manufactured with or does not contain ozone depleting substances.
  • Moldings made from wood form certified renewable forests are available.
 

Packaging

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 and 100% can be recycled or composted (where facilities exist).

  • Recycled MaterialsTowel and tissue products are made with 100% recycled material and up to 75% post-consumer content
  • Napkins 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 40% post-consumer fiber
  • Specialty sandwich pouches and bags contain 50% post-consumer fiber
  • Plastic salad bowls were redesigned to remove 711,000 lbs. of plastic from our waste stream annually. Currently the salad bowl and lid are made from 25% recycled PET plastic bottles and can be recycled where facilities exist.
  • Catering trays & lids are currently made with 25% recycled material and can be recycled.

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 or lined Reusable Bagstray. This approach minimizes the associated waste stream and improves the meal presentation.

To further reduce bag usage, we are currently testing a new way to secure individual wrapped sandwiches which can eliminate the need for a bag when only a sandwich is purchased to go. However, we recognize that some orders will still require a bag so we have recently redesigned reusable bags (made with 30% recycled content) for franchisees who wish to offer them to their customers.

Although we continue to look for more sustainable materials for our bags, we believe that plastic bags work the best for the products we sell and currently are more sustainable than paper bags. When the full life cycle is considered, it takes less energy to produce, transport, store and recycle plastic bags. However, our franchisees comply with all local legislation and we have recyclable paper bags made with 100% recycled paper or reusable bags are available for those areas that restrict or ban plastic bag usage.

In other sustainable packaging solutions put in place in North America, we have:

  • Eliminated polystyrene from most of our packaging and no longer use polystyrene cutlery, drinking cup, soup bowls or clam shell packages. These items have been shifted to more easily recyclable resins or paper based material.
  • Redesigned the meal-to-go box reducing the amount of source material used and adding 10% recycled content.
  • Switched to a pizza box with 40% recycled content.
  • Reduced the size of our larger plastic cups which is estimated to remove 715,000 lb of resin from our waste stream annually.
  • Transitioned to a pulp molded four-cup carrier made with 100% recycled content, thus saving approximately 9,000 trees annually. These cup carriers are recyclable and composable where facilities exist.

We are moving to more sustainable marketing material where feasible and cost effective.

  • Our take-out menu brochure is printed on Sustainable Forest Initiatives (SFI) certified recycled paper with 10% post-consumer content.
  •  Our Subway® gift cards are made with 30% recycled plastic.
  • In April 2011 approximately 75% of restaurants in US and Canada shifted from non-recyclable plastic menu panels to paper menu panels that can be recycled.
 

Eco-Restaurants

Subway franchisees are entrepreneurs and many are visionaries dedicated to supporting their communities and the environment. In fact, some have built ECO-Restaurants designed to conserve resources during the development process and set the stage for efficient operations in the future.

Kokomo, Indiana Eco RestaurantThe exterior of the Kokomo, Indiana location was built with 100% reused stone. Other features include: LED exterior lighting, a reflective white roof and preferred parking spaces for efficient vehicles/carpools.

Currently, there are 14 ECO-Restaurants designed to conserve resources and operate efficiently. Six Eco Restaurants were We Are seeing lower energy and water bills and my customers love the atmosphere that it creates. Said, franchisee George Estep, Kokomo Indianabuilt & certified through an internal Subway® process that follows the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines. Today there are four LEED certified restaurants and three are pending LEED certification. Many other ECO- Restaurants are in various stages of development.

Other Subway® ECO-Restaurants are located in:

  • La Place, Louisiana
  • St Helens, Oregon
  • Keiser Station, Oregon
  • Kissimmee, Florida LEED Silver
  • Chapel Hill; LEED Certified
  • Love Park, Illinois
  • Loveland, Oregon
  • Cary Park, North Carolina LEED Certified
  • Durham, North Carolina LEED Certified
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Kokomo, Indiana pending LEED Silver
  • North Haven, Connecticut 2 locations pending LEED ceritification
  • Eco restaurant in France

Features of our ECO-Restaurants include but are not limited to:

  • High efficiency HVAC (Heating, ventilation and cooling) equipment
  • Energy Star rated equipment
  • High efficiency lighting program
  • Low flow faucets and low flow or dual flush toilets
  • Motion sensor lighting controls in restrooms
  • Day light sensors in guest area
  • LED interior and exterior signage
  • Non-smoking environment
  • Outside air monitoring of CO2
  • Indoor air quality management during construction
  • Reuse of at least 30% of restaurant furniture
  • Forest Steward Council (FSC)-certified wood moldings
  • Low VOC (volatile organic compounds) materials, paints, adhesives
  • Electrical sub metering and thermal comfort monitoring
  • Certified green cleaning program
  • Recycling and construction waste management program
  • LEED/Eco Restaurant educational material
  • Furniture products are not manufactured with or contain ozone depleting substances.

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.
  • Optimized napkin case pack saving 19.907 trees per year.
subway FAQs

SUBWAY® FAQs

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.
 

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