With the increasing demand for eco-friendly products and practices, fast food restaurants are rapidly adopting the trend. Subway is a fast food restaurant running over 43,000 outlets in 110 countries. The restaurant is the world's largest in terms of operational locations (Subway, 2019). Most subway restaurants are individually owned; however, they operate under independent franchises that work closely with Independent Purchasing Cooperatives. The cooperation between the two aims at enhancing resource conservation, limited energy use, food safety, and waste reduction. Subway restaurant has improved its commitment to offering the best food while ensuring that its operations have a positive impact on the environment. This research explores the efforts by subway in preserving water availability, natural ecosystems, and healthy farming practices.
Subway restaurant has introduced eco-restaurants as part of their environmental commitment. The eco-restaurants at Subway use LED lighting which is an energy efficient lighting. Additionally, the stores also have standardized low-flow faucets operating under high pressure. The taps, therefore, save an estimated 277 million gallons of water that would otherwise be wasted (Subway, 2019). The napkins offered at the restaurant are made of 100% processed chlorine-free, recycled fiber, and water-based inks (Subway, 2019). The packaging within these fast food outlets is also made with recycled content which can decompose at the facility or recycled. The salad lids and bowls used at the stores are made from recycled water or soda bottles, therefore, limiting the millions of waste bottles from landfills. Subway also adds 95% post-consumer recycled material which is part of their redesigned catering trays. The trays alone reduce about 3 million pounds of plastic from being part of solid waste every year (Subway, 2019).
Natural Resource Conservation
Fast food restaurants are also working to minimize resource use, protect naturally existing vegetation cover and animal life and encourage the use of biodegradable materials as they do not harm the natural ecosystem. Changes in patterns of managing water resources and inadequate supply of clean drinking water affect many regions of the world. Subway recognizes the importance of water resources; thus the implementation of wise use strategies. Apart from their eco-friendly restaurants, low faucets have been installed in all their branches conserving at least 182.1 million gallons of water every year (Subway, 2019). The rain gardens, landscaped irrigation systems and native ground cover at some of their branches serve both beautification purposes as well as conservation (Subway, 2019). Since 2007 the company has worked closely with their pickle and pepper suppliers to decrease the amount of brine (Subway, 2019). Since then the company annually save 130,000 lbs. of plastic, 739,000 gallons of water, and 559,000 pounds of corrugate resources (Subway, 2019). The same efforts have been directed to their close to zero landfill initiatives. Recycling and composting bins available at their stores have been a significant component in reducing wastes released. Some of Subway restaurants in Seattle and San Francisco are recycling all their food products and other wastes (Subway, 2019).
Fast food restaurants continually adopt environmental packaging as a way of reducing harmful waste release into the environment. Subway restaurant aims to design function packaging that reusable, and recyclable. Subway restaurants, therefore, continually seek ways of increasing their recycled content, and degradability through feasible and cost-effective innovations. Most of their packaging has been redesigned to be multi-functional and made with fewer materials or more sustainable components. The majority of Subway's paper packaging is made up of 100% recycled content that can still be recycled or compose if deposited (Subway, 2019). The towels and tissues used at the restaurants are also made of 100% recycled content. The napkins are printed with water-based inks and soy which is a recyclable fiber. 40% of the built-up materials for sandwich wraps are post-consumer fiber. The specialty bags and pounces used also contain post-consumer fiber (Subway, 2019). Moreover, the salad bowl and lid used by most franchises are made from recycled PET plastic bottles (25%). The catering trays are also made from recycled PET plastic bottles which can be further recycled where the facilities are located (Subway, 2019).
Subway Franchisees have continued to have access to the primary agricultural outputs that are in line with growing consumer needs while conserving the environment and productivity efforts of the communities that produce those raw materials. The company recognizes that the greatest challenge to their activities is the need to make farming productive while at the same time preserving the natural resources, caring for animals and continually reducing the impact of such actions on the environment (Subway, 2019). The close relationship with the franchisee-owned Independent Purchasing Cooperatives ensures the restaurant seeks partners and vendors who share the same commitment and values towards environmental protection.
Subways journey to sustainable agriculture is guided by the principles which direct the decisions and choices made by both the company, its franchisees and independent partners (Subway Malaysia, n.d). These policies are:
- Integrating social and environmental responsibility in agricultural practices
- Compliance with the regulations, law and set industrial standards
- Provide incentives and initiatives that enable local farmers to improve and protect the environment within which they work.
- Incorporate technological applications and credible science where possible.
- Motivate and provide initiatives that enable local farmers the improve and protect the environment within which they operate.
- Optimize resource use to preserve soil fertility, improve farm productivity, air and water quality and biodiversity in agricultural production.
- Safeguard the care of farm animals as they form an integral part of the company's supply chain.
Food and Quality Management Practices
Food safety and quality are among the highly held values at Subway. The company aims to serve food that continually meets the highest safety and quality standards. To ensure that the food served is of the highest quality the company adheres to stringent policies and procedures. The suppliers have to be committed to abiding by the Supply Chain Employment Practices Policy and Supplier Code of Conduct established by the company (Subway, 2019). The need for the high standard food service also ensures that third-party audits are conducted for both the suppliers, existing Subway restaurants and proposed branches (Subway, 2019). These audits encompass Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HAACP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and good agricultural and harvesting practices tests (Subway, 2019). These efforts help in ensuring both the suppliers and independent stores under the Subway brand adhere to the established environmental conservation efforts.
The brand also has a food and quality enforcement team that is tasked with reviewing all the quality and safety programs in place food production and sell. By working closely with vendors, the Food and Quality Enforcement team achieves safety improvement and quality goals set. For example, the team identifies high-pressure pasteurization (HPP) as a way of improving freshness while eliminating the need for chemical preservatives that may be harmful to the environment. Additionally, all the restaurants in the world under the Subway brad are evaluated on their ability to comply with policies and guideline set. If the food and safety, pest control standards, product temperature, waste production, and agricultural outsourcing techniques do not meet the sustainability efforts, then the restaurant is likely to be terminated as a Subway franchise.
Subway franchises are also made up of visionary entrepreneurs who support the community and environment. Through its supply chain, Subway has implemented important design and planning strategies aimed at reducing the production of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2010 the initiatives by Subway were estimated to have reduced 104,586 metric tons of carbon emissions which can be compared to the consumption of 238,000 barrels of oil in a year (Subway Malaysia, n.d). At a global level, the distribution systems and plant location are strategic such that the fuel use, carbon emission, and costs are reduced. It is estimated that over 3.6 million gallons of diesel and 21.8 million truck miles are saved in the US and Canada (Subway Malaysia, n.d). In the UK rod miles cut are at least 400,000 as new depots, and networks are located at strategic points linking the restaurants and farmers.
Subway restaurant has implemented various strategies for environmental protection and conservation ranging from their climate action, food quality management practices, agricultural outsourcing, natural resource conservation, packaging, and eco-restaurant establishments. As the company aims to serve fresh and quality food to their customers a fundamental interest is placed on production practices, suppliers' activities and adherence to food regulation and safety practices. As a result, production and retail practices limit pollution. Moreover, the eco-restaurants established by the company conserves water resources, utilizes recyclable materials and manages the release of waste by using biodegradable materials and reducing waste production. The furniture products within the restaurants are also manufactured without using ozone depletion substances such as wood. Degradable materials that are also re-usable limits solid waste pollution. Audits of the franchises in food management and sustainable practices also ensure the suppliers and retailers adhere to environmental and community protection approaches. Strategic planning of their routes by linking depots, stores, farmers and transit system helps reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Subway. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.subway.com/en US/AboutUs/SocialResponsibility/environmental leadership
Subway Malaysia (n.d). Retrieved from https://www.subway.com/en-MY/AboutUs/SocialResponsibility/SustainableSourcing
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Research Paper on Subway's Environmental Sustainability Practices. (2022, Dec 22). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/research-paper-on-subways-environmental-sustainability-practices
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