Sustainability at Carrols
Carrols is committed to creating long-term value for its stockholders through sustainable business practices that support our employees, our customers and the communities we serve.
As one of the largest restaurant franchisees in the United States, Carrols operates almost 1,100 restaurants across the Burger King® and Popeyes® brands. Carrols is the largest Burger King franchisee in the country, currently operating over 1,000 Burger King restaurants in 23 states.
As a franchisee, we are subject to strict guidelines established by our franchisor, Restaurant Brands International (RBI), the parent company of Burger King Corporation and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. In areas ranging from vendor and menu selection, sustainable packaging and the responsible sourcing of the food we serve, we operate in accordance with RBI’s standards and sustainability initiatives.
We believe that the delicious, affordable and convenient meals we serve, and our customers love, must be sustainable.”
We support RBI’s sustainability initiatives and regularly consult with RBI’s sustainability team to receive updates on their efforts and share our perspectives. We also lead our own efforts in areas such as reducing energy use, career development, employee well-being, community support and volunteerism.
Click on the graphic below to see the areas of our sustainability program that Carrols controls.
Our Sphere of Influence
- Nutritional Transparency
- Inspections and Food Safety
- Customer Service
- Plant-Based Options
- Under Carrols’ control
- RBI standards implemented by Carrols .
- Standards established by RBI
The Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee of Carrols’ Board of Directors oversees the Company’s policies, goals and initiatives relating to sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG), and Carrols’ Sustainability Committee, led by our Vice President and General Counsel, provides executive-level oversight.
As further described below and in our Sustainability Report, there are four pillars to our sustainability program: Our Food, Our Environment, Our People and Our Communities.
Our Four Pillars
Carrols is committed to maintaining industry-leading food quality and safety standards.
Food is the foundation of our business and we are passionate about serving guests the great-tasting food they love, each and every day. To ensure industry-leading food quality and safety standards across our operations, Carrols adheres to a variety of important policies, practices and procedures:
We provide extensive classroom, online and in-restaurant training to help ensure that every Carrols team member has the knowledge and skills needed to meet our rigorous food quality and safety requirements. Our restaurant managers and shift supervisors also complete the ServSafe Food Safety training and certification program, which is accredited by the American National Standards Institute Conference for Food Protection.
We operate in strict compliance with all health and quality assurance standards mandated by federal, state and local laws and regulations. These include, among other things, rules regarding food handling and cleanliness, minimum cooking times and temperatures, and maximum time standards for holding prepared food.
Our restaurants undergo both scheduled and unscheduled inspections by independent third-party firms under oversight by our franchisors to help ensure quality and safety protocols are being followed consistently. These third-party inspections complement the inspections our restaurant managers perform multiple times a day to ensure taste, quality, cleanliness and food safety.
We support RBI’s commitment to provide guests with a variety of menu options, including plant-based offerings, and equip them with the information they need to make educated food choices.
As part of its commitment to using real food and high-quality ingredients, Burger King has banned 120 artificial ingredients from its food menu in the United States and is working toward offering a permanent menu that is free of colors, flavors and preservatives from artificial sources, wherever possible. Popeyes is working toward accomplishing the same by the end of 2025.
We are committed to consistently providing our guests with a great customer experience, which is why we carefully track our guest satisfaction metrics and seek to satisfactorily resolve any customer complaints. We believe that our commitment and dedication to customer service is reflected in the fact that we typically outperform the Burger King system in same-store-sales and guest satisfaction ratings.
Highlights and Initiatives
Carrols is proud to support RBI in fulfilling its commitments to food safety, nutrition transparency, improving choice and real ingredients. Recent expressions of these commitments include:
All of our restaurants are subject to rigorous food safety inspections on a regular basis. During these audits, our restaurants are carefully inspected to confirm that they meet our franchisors’ brand and food safety standards.
Burger King’s Nutrition Explorer, an online platform that provides users with nutritional information about Burger King menu items to help them make informed decisions.
The introduction of plant-based options such as the Impossible Whopper, which provides guests with a flame-grilled patty made from plants. Burger King has also been testing additional plant-based options across a variety of international markets.
RBI’s product specifications require that all approved promotional drinkware and plastic toys do not contain bisphenol A (BPAs). RBI also prohibits the use of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOAs) within its approved paper and packaging products.
RBI requires all Burger King and Popeyes products to be free of partially hydrogenated oils and to be designated as containing no trans fat.
At Carrols, we believe that protecting our planet for future generations and ensuring the sustainability of our business are of paramount importance. We are dedicated to doing our part by working to continuously decrease our carbon footprint through reduced energy use while supporting RBI’s sustainability programs in areas such as the responsible sourcing of the food we serve.
We are committed to reducing our energy use and, in turn, our carbon footprint by, among other things, installing LED lighting and more energy efficient heating, cooling and cooking equipment. We are also actively working on electric vehicle (EV) charging and community solar pilot programs that can help reduce emissions in the communities we serve. With respect to matters that are controlled by RBI, Carrols supports our franchisor’s sustainability initiatives in areas including responsible sourcing, packaging and waste reduction.
Highlights and Initiatives
Packaging helps us safely serve our guests the food they love, but some packaging can harm the health of our planet. To help address this concern, we phased out expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam packaging at all our Burger King locations in 2020. We are also aligned with RBI’s sustainable packaging strategy, including its goal to have 100% of all guest-facing fiber-based packaging come from renewable, recycled or certified sources.
To help reduce waste and conserve resources, our cooking oil is recycled into clean-burning biofuels and other applications, and a majority of our restaurants have high-efficiency hand dryers in their restrooms to help minimize paper towel use. We also support RBI’s goal of making recycling available at all our Burger King and Popeyes locations where commercially viable and adequate infrastructure exists by 2025.
We track water consumption at all our restaurants to help identify leaks and other opportunities to reduce water waste. We have also taken steps to reduce water consumption by installing low-flow faucets and toilets in a majority of our restaurants.
LED lighting is standard in all our newly constructed, rebuilt and remodeled restaurants. It is also being retrofitted in our older restaurants, as well as incorporated into signage and parking lot lighting to help reduce our electricity use.
Carrols is dedicated to reducing its environmental footprint by building more energy efficient restaurants. In addition to LED lighting, our newly constructed and rebuilt restaurants are also fitted with higher efficiency water heaters, white membrane roofing with increased thermal reflectivity, more energy efficient kitchen equipment, color impregnated building façades that do not require painting, and higher efficiency HVAC systems.
As part of our sustainability program, we engaged consulting firms to help us measure our Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2021 and 2022. As a franchisee, we prioritize measuring our Scope 1 and 2 footprint due to the direct control we have over these emissions, which primarily come from energy use at our corporate offices and our portfolio of Burger King and Popeyes restaurants. Our emissions were measured in accordance with the internationally accepted Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP). Our total 2022 Scope 1 emissions were 69,088 MTCO2e and our total 2022 Scope 2 emissions were 107,313 MTCO2e under both the location-based and the market-based approach. As our restaurant operating hours increased in 2022 closer to pre-pandemic levels, we intend to utilize our 2022 emissions as our new base year for climate targets.
We are in the process of developing a GHG reduction strategy that includes testing technology that can help reduce the amount of electricity used to heat and cool our restaurants, the installation of higher-efficiency lighting, kitchen equipment and HVAC systems, and pursuing opportunities to source renewable energy. Once this work has been completed, we intend to identify and commit to a target to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 emissions. We also will continue to publicly report our Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions on an annual basis. We believe that RBI is in the best position to influence our Scope 3 GHG emissions as we are only permitted to utilize suppliers that are approved by RBI and operate in compliance with RBI’s standards. RBI has measured its Scope 3 emissions, and we strongly support its goal to reduce Scope 3 emissions intensity by 50% per restaurant by 2030. This target was approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and is based on SBTi Criteria and Recommendations.
We are actively working on pilot programs that can help reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions with the intent of rolling out successful programs more extensively across our portfolio. Examples of some of the pilot programs we are currently working on include:
Electric Vehicle Charging
Carrols is working with EV charging providers on pilot programs to install EV charging stations in the parking lots of up to a dozen of our restaurants. Currently, EV charging stations are operational at two of our Burger King restaurants. By supporting EV adoption, we hope to help create a more sustainable future by helping reduce GHG emissions while attracting EV-driving guests to our restaurants.
Carrols had several of its restaurants audited to identify opportunities to reduce energy usage. We have also entered into a pilot program to test technology and initiatives that can help decrease the amount of electricity used to heat and cool our restaurants.
Carrols supports community solar programs, which facilitate the sourcing of clean energy in the communities our restaurants serve while helping reduce GHG emissions and the Company’s electricity costs. Carrols currently participates in community solar programs in New York, Massachusetts and Illinois and is actively pursuing opportunities in additional states as they become available.
Food production can be resource-intensive. This is why Carrols supports RBI’s commitment to responsibly source the food we serve and to make procurement choices that align with our shared goal of more sustainable food production.
We support RBI’s commitment to a beef supply chain that prioritizes humane treatment of animals, protects environmental resources and contributes positively to a thriving global food system. RBI is an active member of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and is aligned with their goals to improve the sustainability of beef production at both global and regional levels.
All chicken used in approved products for Burger King and Popeyes in the United States is raised without the use of antibiotics important to human medicine (as defined by the World Health Organization in Critically Important Antimicrobials for Human Medicine: 6th Revision 2018). In addition, RBI is working with suppliers, animal welfare experts and others in the poultry industry to continuously improve the welfare of chicken in its supply chain.
RBI is committed to transitioning to cage-free eggs on a global basis and plans to use 100% cage-free eggs in the United States at Popeyes restaurants by the end of 2025 and at Burger King restaurants by the end of 2026.
RBI is committed to eliminating the use of gestation crates for housing pregnant sows in its supply chain globally. RBI has achieved this goal with respect to its Popeyes restaurants in the United States and is on track to achieve this goal with respect to its Burger King restaurants by the end of 2024.
RBI is actively working with suppliers to source approved fiber-based packaging from certified sustainably managed forests or recycled sources. Currently, approximately 99.6% of guest-facing fiber-based packaging in North America comes from certified or recycled sources and RBI is working to reach 100%. RBI is also working to identify opportunities to increase the use of renewable and recycled materials, to make our guest packaging more recyclable or compostable, and to reduce material volume through innovative packaging design and restaurant policies. For example, Burger King launched nationally in the U.S. an unbleached napkin made of 100% recycled fiber and tested a strawless lid in New Jersey in 2022.
Reusable Packaging Systems
RBI has been testing a variety of reusable and returnable packaging systems to determine how they might create a commercially viable system that reduces packaging waste, including through a pilot program at Burger King restaurants in New Jersey.
Our palm oil purchases are within the scope of RBI’s Palm Oil Sourcing Policy supporting sustainable palm oil production. RBI is actively working with its approved suppliers to source palm oil that does not contribute to deforestation or agricultural development on peatlands. In 2022, approximately 99% of RBI’s palm oil volumes in North America was within the scope of RBI’s Palm Oil Sourcing Policy was Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified Mass Balance or better.
While RBI is not directly involved in the raising, feeding, handling, transportation or processing of animals, as a major global purchaser of animal products they are partnering with suppliers and producers to drive ongoing improvement in animal health and welfare.
We support RBI’s goal to eliminate deforestation from its global supply chain and promote responsible land use that prevents ecosystem degradation.
- RBI’s website provides an overview of its approach to responsible sourcing and provides a detailed description of its Code of Business Conduct and Ethics for Vendors.
- RBI’s Restaurant Brands For Good: 2022 Report offers further information about its goals and initiatives with respect to protecting our forests, animal health and welfare, and responsible sourcing (see “Good Planet” section).
Our greatest asset is our people, who work together to provide outstanding service and quality food for the thousands of guests we serve every day.
Carrols works to create a safe, equitable and rewarding work environment where employees are supported in their roles and are presented with opportunities for advancement. We are committed to fostering an inclusive culture in which all employees feel valued, respected and heard.
Codes and Policies
We have implemented a variety of codes and policies to ensure that our workplaces support our people, reflect our values and comply with applicable laws and regulations. They include our:
Furthermore, to empower our employees to report concerns without fear of reprisal, Carrols has established an ethics hotline – a free tip line and website available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to field complaints and reports on an anonymous basis.
Highlights and Initiatives
Support during times of need
In response to the economic challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we established the Carrols Cares Fund in April 2020 to provide financial assistance to our employees in need. Since its launch, the Carrols Cares Fund has evolved into a corporate-level initiative that provides assistance to more than just employees who have experienced hardship as a result of the pandemic. As of June 30, 2023, the fund has provided over 950 of our employees with a wide range of support that has included, among other things, bereavement expenses and financial relief after a house fire.
An ongoing commitment to leadership and career development
To support career development, we provide our employees with extensive training opportunities and clear pathways for advancement. Carrols also launched a mentorship program to provide support to advance the professional development for new-in-position, demographically diverse and high potential/high impact restaurant managers. In addition, we offer an educational assistance plan that provides financial support to full-time corporate staff, salaried employees and part-time assistant managers to take advantage of after-hour educational opportunities to improve their skills in their present position or prepare them to assume greater responsibilities within the Company.
Our commitment to developing talent and leadership from within our own ranks has delivered meaningful results: a majority of the managers at our restaurants and overseeing our operating regions have been promoted into their leadership roles from more junior positions within Carrols.
Reflecting the diversity of our communities
As of June 30, 2023, approximately 54% of our employees self-identified as being female and approximately 59% self-identified as belonging to a racial or ethnic minority group. Our equal employment and anti-discrimination policies reflect our commitment to creating fair and equitable workplaces where everyone is respected.
Carrols helps promote caring and supportive communities in the places where our employees live and work.
We have created programs that encourage our employees to engage in volunteerism and charitable giving to help support organizations that strengthen local communities.
Highlights and Initiatives
Community investment initiatives
- Since 2012, Carrols has helped raise more than $5.5 million to support the Burger King Foundation, a non-profit organization that assists Burger King employees, their family members and the community through educational scholarships and emergency relief grants. Since 2012, Carrols has awarded over 5,500 scholarships, approximately 30% of which have been awarded to employees of Carrols or their family members and the remainder to recipients in the communities our restaurants serve. Overall, the Burger King Scholars program has provided nearly $60 million in financial support to 48,000 students since 2000.
- Our Dollars for Doers Volunteer Program offers grants to community organizations where Carrols employees volunteer. Each employee may seek up to two grants per year of up to $250 each in support of their chosen charities. The program is open to both part-time and full-time employees.
- Through our Matching Gift Program, Carrols will match employees’ charitable donations to local food banks or food pantries of up to $5,000 per employee per year. This program is open to both part-time and full-time employees.
- Carrols is also committed to supporting the Syracuse, NY community where our Company is headquartered. Carrols supports a wide variety of charitable causes including ones devoted to medical research, healthcare, social services, rehabilitation programs, education, youth recreation, and local volunteer fire and rescue.