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Subway Sustainability Actions


Efficient In-store 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.


Water Conservation

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. For 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.



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).


Reusable Packaging

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.



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.

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