Corporate Environmental Sustainability & Responsibility

We believe our business operations and the natural world are closely linked, and we are working to make the world a better place by reducing our impact on the environment.


We continually strive to be good stewards of the environment by working closely with our vendors to purchase products and services with a view toward energy efficiency and reduce our environmental impact. Below are just a few of the many measures we are taking to become a leader of sustainable practices in our industry. A more in-depth progress report can be found here.


Squarely Sustainable™ — Our Approach to Sustainability

Squarely Sustainable, a nod to the Wendy’s signature square hamburgers, is our four-pronged approach to sustainability. We apply our Squarely Sustainable approach as we embark on new, ambitious goals to build far more Wendy’s restaurants across the globe, and do that responsibly. We aim to…

  • Use Less and reduce unnecessary materials use;
  • Use Better and seek certified sustainable materials where possible;
  • Spark Action by identifying consumer-facing actions that can drive change; and
  • Engage Partners to work with others to find solutions on important issues.

Wendy's Squarely Sustainable

Our Smart designs, which are smaller than our legacy buildings, and use less materials and require less land to build. We use better materials, like energy-efficient equipment, LED lighting and furniture made from recycled materials. We spark action with our franchisees by creating attractive economics on the buildings and incentives, so they are willing to fill the pipeline with Smart restaurants. And we engage partners like leading designers, architects, engineers, builders and government agencies to set goals and report on our progress to save energy, making our Smart dreams a reality.


Energy Management

We strive to become best-in-class in the way we purchase and use energy in our restaurants. Wendy’s always considers energy efficiency in the selection of all equipment, goods and services. Energy conservation makes good business sense, and it reflects the responsibility we feel to be a good neighbor and steward of the environment.

 These are just a few of the ways we’ve made progress on this initiative:

  • Use of LED lights for new and remodeled restaurants
  • Conversion of more than 500 company restaurants to exterior LED parking lot lighting
  • Conversion of more than 325 company restaurants to more efficient walk-in cooler and freezer motors
  • Use of high efficiency HVAC systems in new restaurant construction


Better Buildings® Challenge

In January 2016, we announced our participation with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge.  Among the first restaurants to join the Challenge, we committed to reduce energy consumption in our U.S. company-owned restaurants by 20 percent per transaction by 2025.

 Being a 95 percent franchised organization, our franchisees play a big role in our business. With that in mind, Wendy’s became the first restaurant company with franchise organizations around the country to join the DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge. Currently, 17 franchisees in the United States representing more than 1,200 Wendy's restaurants have joined the challenge. Including company-owned restaurants, there are more than 1,500 total restaurants participating in the Better Buildings Challenge.


 Click here to view our profile on the Better Buildings Challenge Partners Page.


We’re pleased to report 2018 energy savings numbers for The Wendy’s Company:

  • Wendy’s company-owned restaurants and the Dublin Restaurant Support Center reported a 12 percent reduction in energy use.
    • Nearly 140 restaurants are reporting more than a 10 percent reduction in energy use. Furthermore, 73 company-owned restaurants – which equals more than 20 percent of our company footprint — exceeded the overall reduction goal in 2018.
  • The Dublin Restaurant Support Center — Wendy’s headquarters — has reduced energy usage by 41 percent. This improvement is the result of multiple efforts and initiatives like exterior and interior LED light upgrades, HVAC equipment upgrades, and improved controls.
  • Wendy’s continued to use less energy in 2018 at our company restaurants. Restaurant total energy use dropped by nearly eight percent compared to our baseline year. This was a result of strategic changes including new and image activated restaurants, energy upgrades — like installing new HVAC systems – more efficient walk-in cooler motors and LED lights.


The Wendy's Energy Challenge

We were so encouraged by our participation in the Better Buildings Challenge that in 2017, we developed our own program to include our franchisees outside the United States. We modeled our initiative on the DOE’s program and called it the Wendy's Energy Challenge. We are excited to report that we now have 18 franchisees participating in the Wendy’s Energy Challenge representing a total footprint of 4.7 million square feet.

The top franchise performers in the Wendy’s Energy Challenge for 2018 are Wendium of Florida, Carlisle Corporation, Hamra Enterprises, Tar Heel Capital, and Calhoun Management. The 876 company and franchise restaurants reporting data in 2018 reduced emission reductions equivalent to taking nearly 13,000 cars off the road!


U.S. Green Building Council - LEED® Certification  

As a long-time member, Wendy’s® supports the commitment the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has made to develop a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings.


Wendy’s is a strong advocate of energy conservation and sustainability. Beginning this journey more than six years ago, the restaurant company built two LEED® certified restaurants, one in Bridgeton, Mo., and the other in Atlanta, Ga., to gain critical learnings and explore the possibility of incorporating energy conservation efforts in new and existing restaurants.  A new restaurant in Chicago is registered as a LEED restaurant and is presently going through the certification process. 


Further, the Thomas Building and Conference Center, constructed in 2012 and located on the campus of the Wendy’s Restaurant Support Center in Dublin, Ohio, was awarded the LEED Silver certification in spring 2013 for designing and constructing a building to sustainable standards including energy efficient lighting and HVAC.  At more than 75,000 square feet in size, the building houses a 6,500 square foot conference space, offices and a state-of-the-art fitness center. 


In its home state of Ohio, Wendy’s took a leadership role when it implemented energy upgrades at nearly 30 Columbus-area restaurants and its Restaurant Support Center. Wendy’s was recognized by AEP Ohio for its commitment to energy efficiency in 2014 which saved more than 1.2 million kWh, or more than 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide, annually which is equivalent to taking nearly 200 cars off the road per year.



Packaging, Recycling, and the NextGen Consortium

At Wendy’s, we know our customers are increasingly aware of packaging waste and its impact on our environment, and they’re also looking for more eco-friendly packaging options. While many of our restaurants recycle corrugated cardboard boxes and used cooking oil, one of the biggest challenges to recycling is that food packaging is not widely accepted by recycling facilities. And, foodservice beverage cups are typically made of valuable pulp fiber, and serious infrastructure changes need to happen for that pulp to be recovered and reused.

Wendy's Recycle

While the issue of recyclable, single-use plastics and paper is not an easy one to solve, it’s not a reason to give up. In early 2019, Wendy’s committed to a multi-year partnership with the NextGen Consortium to address single-use food packaging waste. Currently, the Consortium is focused on identifying new and existing cup solutions designed to optimize the hot and cold fiber cup used by many foodservice operations, including Wendy’s. This partnership will allow us to work together to develop smarter packaging solutions and help fight the environmental consequences of single-use food packaging.

Wendy's Next Gen



Used Cooking Oil Recycling  

Wendy's understands the positive and sustained impact the recycling of cooking oil can have on the environment. For many years, Wendy’s has partnered with various oil recycling companies to collect used cooking oil so it can be refined for use as an ingredient in truly renewable second-use biofuels, animal feed and many consumer products like cosmetics, tires and leather shoes.


According to industry sources, oil recycling helps to reduce the foodservice industry’s carbon footprint. We understand, for every metric ton of carbon dioxide produced in the operation of recycling plants, more than seven metric tons of carbon dioxide are removed from the environment. And by responsible recycling, foodservice operators are reducing the amount of organic waste materials going into landfills and the amount of organic waste discharged into water treatment facilities, easing the burden on overtaxed landfills and water treatment plants.


Wendy's restaurants recycle between 545 lbs. – 750 lbs. of used cooking oil every month.