Subway unveils new Fresh CSR Agenda

Subway has unveiled a new ‘Fresh CSR Agenda’ across the UK and Ireland to support its owner-operated franchise business growth strategy, and reflect the areas where it is seeking to take positive action as a leading quick service restaurant brand across the region. Since opening its first US store in 1965, Subway has grown into a global business with a franchised network of approximately 5,500 stores in 36 countries across Europe. 

Subway’s ‘Fresh CSR Agenda’ sets out its priorities, which are underpinned by policies and programmes that steer progress, for all European markets.  It is built around three key pillars and encompasses a range of issues, challenges and opportunities for the brand and its franchise owners and supply chain partners: Sourcing Responsibly, which covers supply chain and animal welfare practices; Serving Guests Sustainably, which includes reviewing the use of proprietary single use packaging and raising the nutritional quality of products and Supporting Communities, by generating prosperity through purchasing, employment and commercial activity, including supporting community and charity initiatives.

Through its ‘Fresh CSR Agenda’, Subway’s ambition is to strengthen the contributions it makes as a company. This is increasingly important for guests across the UK and Ireland, as they look for businesses that act in ways that are good for them, better for the environment and valuable to society. 

Concern over plastic waste and its environmental impact is growing rapidly across the UK and Ireland. Subway is stepping up its programme, to refine its proprietary packaging in efficient ways to protect products and minimise waste. It is working towards reducing proprietary single use plastics within its restaurants and more widely across company operations.

An area the brand has invested in is creating new paper-based packaging as part of its wider business growth in home and office third party delivery, to ensure the product reaches guests in perfect condition. These factors enable guests to reduce the waste they create in their daily lives and the impact of the business on the environment, promoting a more circular economy.

This includes:

o   In UK & Ireland placing a ‘Choose to Refuse’ message by the drink dispensers, to encourage guests not to automatically take a straw and lid, whilst the brand seeks more planet friendly alternatives.  

o   Continue training Sandwich Artists™ to offer a basket for dine-in and only place Subs in bags on request.

o   Moving to PET 50% recycled bottles for bottled water

o   Introduced new recyclable cardboard delivery boxes.

o   Seeking a source for paper-based salad and catering platters, plus more sustainable cutlery and sauce pot options.

o   Providing napkins made from 100% recycled material and salad bowls made from 95% recycled plastic.

By reviewing and phasing out its proprietary single use packaging, Subway aims to reduce the volume of plastic waste generated in its stores, whilst managing the increased costs to individual franchise businesses of moving to alternatives, avoiding, where possible, additional costs being passed on to guests.

Despite its global reach, Subway remains a community-based business owned and operated by entrepreneurial franchise owners who employ local people. They serve fresh, nutritious food at affordable prices, customised to the order of each guest. Here in the UK and Ireland, Subway franchise owners employ over 14,800 people across 2,600 stores, with their Sandwich Artists™ serving more than 3 million guests each week.

The sourcing of ingredients is an integral part to preparing great food for guests. For example, the business uses over 9 million eggs a year across Europe and has already committed to sourcing 100% Free Range eggs and been awarded multiple “Good Egg Awards” by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) in recognition of this commitment.

For one of its bestselling Subs, Subway uses only skipjack tuna, which is considered a species of low concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The company is also a member of the International Pole & Line Foundation and support sustainable tuna fishing. 

All beef, chicken and pork served to guests in Europe is sourced to standards set by a central policy that reflects the brand’s commitment to meeting stakeholders’ expectations for safe, quality and sustainable products created through livestock farming. Within the UK and Ireland we require all beef, chicken and pork suppliers and their producers to, as a minimum, comply with EU animal welfare legislation and support the principles of the globally recognised Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) Five Freedoms. Many of them also source from farms adhering to national farm assurance schemes, independently audited and verified by recognised certification bodies.

By providing a wide variety of menu choices, all of which are fully customisable, Subway seeks to promote a positive relationship between people and food as an integral part of its business. Over the past five years, it has improved the nutritional profile of many products by reducing added sugars and salt, whilst increasing whole grains, vegetables and lean proteins.

All Subway sandwiches and salads are freshly prepared in front of guests. This unique approach avoids ingredients going to waste and enables Subway to be a leader in minimising food waste within the quick service restaurant sector.

Justin Goes, regional director Europe for Subway International B.V., said: “As a leading quick service restaurant, with community at our heart, we recognise that our progress and success also brings increasing responsibility. It’s time to freshen up our CSR agenda, to make it clearer what we stand for and talk more actively about the work we are doing day in, day out.

“We recognise we need to reduce our impact on the wider environment and we are on a journey alongside our guests, who, Europe-wide are concerned about whether a company is behaving responsibly before buying their products. We know our guests want us to be a responsible business that helps make their lives better in ways that are important to them.”

Colin Hughes, country director for Subway UK and Ireland, said, “We wholly support the launch of Subway’s Fresh CSR Agenda across Europe, recognising that, now more than ever, sustainability is an increasing consideration for our guests in the UK and Ireland. As one of our steps on this journey, we hope that our guests will join us by choosing to leave behind a lid and straw when purchasing a drink from our stores, whilst we search for more planet-friendly alternatives.”