The first photo features an unassuming trash can in a Subway restaurant, with two openings for waste. One has a green recycling symbol, and the other a green garbage can symbol.
The second photo shows what the Redditor discovered when they opened the door beneath the disposal. The user found a single waste bin with no divider separating recyclables and general waste.
While the openings make it appear that customers can responsibly dispose of recyclable items, in reality, they all likely end up in a landfill.
Redditors criticized the situation as an example of greenwashing practices that have become all too common. Greenwashing occurs when a company spends more time and money on marketing itself as sustainable than actually improving its sustainability.
With 85% of consumers shifting their buying habits toward sustainable products and companies, major brands have responded with initiatives designed to reduce their overall waste. But these sustainable campaigns are often cases of greenwashing.
This disposal bin deception contributes to the public perception that their recycled items end up recycled. A recent study found that in 2021 only 5% of the 46 million tons of plastic waste created in the U.S. was recycled.
Reddit users in the comment section lamented how common this deceptive disposal practice is in restaurants and retailers.
“This is every Subway I’ve ever been to. It makes zero sense,” one user writes.
“I’m surprised that people aren’t more aware of this,” another user adds. “Business owners don’t want to have to pay for a huge amount of trash to get picked up every week, plus a massive amount of recycling. It’s more cost-effective to just throw it all away.”
Editor’s note: Subway has since responded to the uproar by saying the company is “working with teams” to make sure they are correctly placing separate bins underneath in these situations.
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