Leon Company Review

January 12, 2017

Welcome to the Leon company review. In this series of company review articles, we put the spotlight on businesses that we think are doing ambitious and honorable things for the environment. These features will cover things like corporate social responsibility, sustainability, green credentials, carbon reduction measures, recycling, reuse and reduction efforts, supply chain responsibility, and more.

If you are not familiar with Leon, it is a chain of 53 restaurants serving healthy and ethical fast food. You may find them around London, in airports and train stations, and in major cities around the UK, as well as in Amsterdam. The whole reason behind the company’s success has been answering the question ‘Why can’t fast food be good food?’. We felt their policies and journey make them perfect for our spotlight.




Score: 16%

The following words have been taken from Leon’s website, and they are exactly what we like to hear from progressive businesses: ‘We, as do we all, rely on the natural world for our health, happiness and our business so it makes sense we are kind to the planet. The restaurant industry has a big impact, as almost half of what British people spend on food, is with restaurants. So we can make environmental problems worse, or we can work to find ways of reducing our environmental impact and inspire our extended family of food growers and producers to to do the same.’ As you will see throughout this company review, their focus is on three areas: Food sourcing & Coffee Waste & Packaging People & Property Their sustainable food mission has led them down some very interesting routes, such as: Procuring raw and organic honey from Hilltop in Montgomeryshire, Wales. Sourcing line-caught Icelandic cod. Buying salmon from Scotland’s oldest independent salmon farm, where all the work is done by hand and no nasty chemicals or growth agents are used. Finding nitrate-free chorizo in Catalonia. Minimising the number of fresh food delivery suppliers for each restaurant to just 3. Increasing the percentage of meat-free dishes on the menu to 65%. Increasing the percentage of vegan dishes on the menu to 31%.

Green Credentials

Score: 15%

Founding member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). Winner of the 2017 Raymond Blanc Sustainability Hero award at the ‘Food Made Good’ awards. 53 stores all powered by green energy From our research, we resolve that Leon care more about doing good and being responsible out of their code of honour, than they do about joining green schemes and projects. There’s something admirable about this, although it does reduce international awareness of their work.

Corporate Social Responsibility Test

Score: 13%

15% Discount for NHS and students 0.1% gender pay gap Sourcing their coffee beans from organic, pesticide-free, World Land Trust certified properties.  Big bonus marks given for the 0.1% gender pay gap. The transparency behind this report was phenomenal, and can be read here. It’s refreshing to see a business be so open about this subject, and it begs the question, why don’t more of our favourite brands approach it?

Carbon Footprint

Score: 18%

In 2017, Leon partnered with Opus Energy to ensure that all of their stores were being 100% powered by green energy. This energy is comprised of wind, solar, hydro and anaerobic digestion. They also went to the trouble of switching to LED bulbs and energy efficient appliances in every restaurant. In recent years they made the switch to sourcing chicken from Red Tractor farms, which has a lower carbon footprint than free-range.  Deliveries of food to the premises are now being made at night when there is less traffic, so that drivers can take the most direct and economical route, saving needless carbon from being emitted into the environment. 

Recycling, Reuse, Reduction

Score: 18%

One thing Leon does to reduce food waste is to redirect the excess to anaerobic digestion plants, to help create green energy, and since they are using green energy themselves, they’ve got a nice little loop. On a day-to-day basis, they are trying to minimise food waste wherever possible, such as by turning excess chips into hash brown bites, and by using the morning’s leftover eggs to help make the lunch dishes. In early 2018, they took the bold decision to switch from plastic cutlery and straws, moving towards biodegradable versions. They didn’t want to create further wastage though, so each store cannot switch over until they’ve used their existing stock.  Takeaway drinks cups are biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable. The chain also sells their own reusable cups made from bamboo, and any customer who brings their own cup gets a 30p discount on their drink. The chain claims to be zero-to-landfill ‘where possible’ in all of their contracts, as well as recycling every resource, and redirecting their coffee waste to Bio-bean to turn into energy. 

Total Eco Score

Score: 80%