Water is a necessary part of any foodservice business, from preparation to cleanliness and sanitation to heating and cooling needs. Wendy’s is committed to making smart reductions in the amount of water it takes for our restaurants to operate and innovating better ways to use our resources where we can.
Wendy’s joined the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings® Water Challenge in 2019. We set a goal to reduce the water use in U.S. Company restaurants by 20% by 2029 against our 2018 baseline year. In 2021, we achieved a 25% reduction against our 2018 baseline, thus surprassing our water reduction goal.
We are also proud to have two franchise organizations, which represent more than 150 restaurants, participating in the Better Buildings Water Challenge. In 2021, Wendium, one of our franchisees, also surpassed this target by achieving a 31% reduction.
Wendy’s has been converting to new automated dishwashing equipment that reduces the average water use for dishwashing by 47% per cycle. Nearly 1,000 of these warewash units have now been installed at Company-owned and franchise locations. Thanks to these upgrades, the total annual water reduction is more than 84,000 kGallons per year—enough water to fill more than 7,700 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
We have completed a system-wide water risk assessment of our Company-operated and franchised restaurants using the World Resources Institute’s Water Risk Atlas tool. Through this assessment, we learned that approximately 40% of Wendy’s restaurant locations, across 18 different countries, are in areas projected to have extremely high- or high-water stress by 2040. Approximately 85% of these sites are located in the United States. We will continue to work with our franchisees to identify water efficiency improvements.
When irrigation is needed for landscaping, it is important that the systems are operating properly and efficiently to minimize water waste. In Florida, Wendy’s is piloting smart systems that react to weather and soil conditions to adjust the amount of water they use. The sensors can even send an alert if they detect a leak. Through the pilot, in 2021, we avoided using more than 2.5 million gallons of irrigation water.