Taco Bell’s hot sauce packets will soon be recyclable.
The fast food chain announced on Monday that it is teaming up with New Jersey-based recycling company TerraCycle “to give its sauce packets a spicier second life that doesn’t involve a landfill.”
More than 8 billion sauce packets are used every year in the U.S., so to help lower that number, Taco Bell and TerraCycle are launching a pilot program in the country later this year, aimed at recycling the restaurant chain’s iconic hot sauce packets.
While details of the program, including how exactly it will work, have yet to be revealed, Taco Bell said that customer participation will be easy and will incorporate free shipping.
And since TerraCycle is known for collecting non-recyclable materials, cleaning them, then melting and remolding them into hard plastic that can be used to make new recycled products, its collaboration with Taco Bell only means that used sauce packets could have an exciting future as something totally new very soon.
“In the food industry today, there is no widely available solution for recycling the flexible film packets that are so commonly used for condiments,” Liz Matthews, Taco Bell’s global chief food innovation officer, said in a statement. “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.”
TerraCycle CEO and founder Tom Szaky, meanwhile, said that “now more than ever, consumers don’t want to sacrifice the planet no matter how delicious the meal. [So] together, Taco Bell and TerraCycle will push the quick service industry by finally finding a way to recycle this type of product.”
Taco Bell and TerraCycle’s program is part of the former’s larger goal to make all its consumer-facing packaging recyclable, compostable, or reusable by 2025 in all its restaurants across the globe.
Last year, Taco Bell said it had removed its popular Mexican Pizza from its menu primarily because of its packaging, which amounted to the use of more than 7 million pounds of paperboard per year.
Though Taco Bell is the first fast food chain to tap TerraCycle’s expertise in finding a way to recycle flexible film packets, the recycling company has already partnered with other big companies in various green projects in the past. For instance, TerraCycle has previously worked with Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and Nestlé to help manufacture reusable packaging in place of single-use packages that end up in landfills.