Taco Bell’s Hot Sauce Packet Recycling Program to Debut This Year

Each year, Taco Bell said it distributes roughly 8.2 billion sauce packets.

The condiment is so adored, in fact, that it is now offering keychain representations of it at its new Times Square location, but the quick-service chain is not stopping there. Later this year, Taco Bell is launching a pilot program in the U.S. to recycle the single-use packets.

According to the chain, customer participation will “be easy and will incorporate free shipping.”

TerraCycle cleans, melts and repurposes hard-to-recycle materials to create new items, like this watering can. Photo Courtesy of TerraCycle

To break down the packets, Taco Bell has tapped TerraCycle, a self-described social enterprise that cleans, melts and repurposes hard-to-recycle materials including cigarette butts, high chairs, strollers, non-donatable clothing, food pouches and pens. Some of the company’s existing partners include Procter & Gamble, L’Oreal, Colgate-Palmolive, Nestle, Henkel, BIC, Tom’s of Maine, PepsiCo, Entenmann’s, 3M and Hasbro.

Examples of Terracycle’s recycled products include watering cans (left), garbage cans, tablet cases and product packaging, though Taco Bell has not yet specified what its sauce packets may transform into.

Taco Bell, among other chains, has long-term goals to improve its in-house sustainability with regard to packaging in particular. By 2025, Taco Bell aims to make all of its consumer-facing packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable.

While the hot sauce packet recycling pilot has not yet launched, the company urged consumers to check if their municipality allows for the recycling of such packages. Further, the chain urged customers to retain any unused sauce packets for future use.

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