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).
- Towel 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.
- Sandwich 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 tray. 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.