Operations

Taco Bell is expanding its sauce packet recycling program

The program, which began in 2021, will now accept used sauce packets of any brand.
The chain says it goes through upwards of 8 million sauce packets in the U.S. each year. / Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Last year, Taco Bell began working with recycling company TerraCycle to develop a method for recycling used hot sauce packets.

Now, the QSR chain is taking things one step further by allowing sauce packets from any brand, not just its own, to be returned through the program.

Participating customers can download a prepaid shipping label to mail used sauce packets they’ve collected to TerraCycle. The packets are then cleaned and melted into hard plastic, which can be remolded to make new products. Additionally, collectors can earn TerraCycle points that can be donated to a nonprofit, school or charitable organization of their choice.

“Earlier this spring, we tested the idea with consumers to responsibly recycle any brand of condiment sauce packets,” said Missy Schaaphok, director of global nutrition and sustainability at Taco Bell, in a statement. “We worked with TerraCycle and a franchisee in New Jersey to test out the concept, and it was such a success. As a result, we decided to take the idea nationwide and share the love beyond our iconic sauce packets, giving a more sustainable option to everyone.”

The program is a part of a larger endeavor by Taco Bell to reduce landfill waste. One aspect of Taco Bell’s sustainability plan is to improve the recyclability of its packaging. The chain, which says it goes through upwards of 8.2  billion sauce packets in the U.S. each year, has set a goal to make all its customer-facing packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025.

UPDATE: This story has been corrected to change it goes through upwards of 8.2  billion sauce packets in the U.S. each year. 

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