Subway Introduces Eco-Restaurants

Subway has long been touted as the ‘healthier’ fast food option due to its comparatively higher use of fresh ingredients. They have also set themselves apart by advertising healthy options with slogans like “98% fat-free,” “one serve of 5-a-day,” and “7 subs under 6 grams of fat.” Their motto of “Eat Fresh” has gained them many accolades in a food industry so focused on processed food.

In the 2010 Zagat® Fast Food Survey, the Subway brand was ranked “number one” by consumers in the “Most Popular,” “Top Service” and “Healthy Options” categories for food brands with 5,000 or more locations. Now the company is also aiming to go green. They have recently announced five new ‘eco’ restaurants each designed to reduce energy, water, and waste consumption in cost effective ways.

According to Marketing Director Elizabeth Stewart, who heads Subway’s CSR: “All of these new eco-restaurants reflect the brand’s commitment to social responsibility and sustainability. We have made a commitment to make our restaurants and operations more environmentally responsible. As the largest franchise chain in the U.S., we know we can make a real difference and are working towards that goal.”

Their new restaurants are all LEED certified. Many franchisers who are unable to build new restaurants are incorporating green ideas like low flow faucets and toilets, energy saving appliances, motion sensor lights, increased recycling, solar panels and more. UCLA will host one of the soon-to-be opened eco-restaurants and it will be located in the newly renovated student center which features a rooftop terrace and garden.

Subway’s CSR efforts do not end here. They have also started introducing recyclable cutlery and paper napkins made out of 100% recycled material. They have also stopped using plastic menu cards and started introduction paper menus.

Their other CSR initiative includes the Fit to Hunger campaign to raise awareness of healthier food options to tackle obesity. This campaign runs in three states using social media as well as print media. In each community where the program is running, Subway advertises statistics related to hunger and local food banks to which Subway has given donations.  Customers can also join in by supporting any of the 20 local food banks with donations of food, money, and time.

According to the Graziado Business Review Subway’s principle of eating fresh and other social initiatives has been shown to have economic benefits as well.

“A comparison of average year-over-year growth in sales adjusted for inflation from 2000 to 2004 shows that Subway’s 14.6% growth substantially exceeded Wendy’s 9.8% and McDonalds 0.3% growth.”

With all these initiatives going on, the eco-restaurant is only the next logical step for the Subway chain as it ties into its already cohesive CSR strategy.

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also