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04/19/2021

Taco Bell to Recycle Hot Sauce Packets

The initiative with TerraCycle will give new life to the currently single-use hot sauce packets as Taco Bell works to fulfill global packaging commitments.
Anna Wolfe
Senior Editor - Restaurants
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Taco Bell fans use 8.2 billion sauce packets a year. Later this year US customers will be able to mail in their used packets for recycling.

Taco Bell is partnering with TerraCycle to tackle recycle its sauce packets.   

Taco Bell knows its fans have more than just a mild obsession with its hot sauce packets, with 8.2 billion sauce packets used in the U.S. each year. But today, they're not recyclable. While the companies will announce details of a national U.S. recycling pilot program later this year, customer participation will be easy and will incorporate free shipping. TerraCycle is renowned for collecting traditionally non-recyclable materials, cleaning them, then melting and remolding them into hard plastic that can be used to make new recycled products. 

Taco Bell's move comes as consumers are increasingly aware of hospitality companies' sustainability initiatives and preferences. According to its 2020 Sustainability Report, Chipotle Mexican Grill  achieved a 51% waste diversion rate through recycling, composting, and waste-to-energy programs, reaching a key goal outlined in its 2018 Sustainability Report.Other brands are disclosing more information about their practices:  In collaboration with World Resources Institute (WRI), Panera is labeling climate-friendly "Cool Food Meals" on its menu—those meals that have a low impact on the climate.  And in Texas,  The Richter Tavern showcased a HerdX blockchain tracked and verified beef shipment.

"In the food industry today, there is no widely available solution for recycling the flexible film packets that are so commonly used for condiments," said Liz Matthews, Taco Bell's Global Chief Food Innovation Officer. "So, we're thrilled to leverage the expertise of TerraCycle to recycle our iconic sauce packet packaging in a way that's as bold and innovative as our menu."

The ability to recycle sauce packets is very important in achieving Taco Bell's goal of making all consumer-facing packaging recyclable, compostable, or reusable by 2025 in restaurants across the globe. The pilot launch is slated to take place later this year, and its results will determine the most viable solutions moving forward, including potential program expansion.