Taco Bell Is Launching Its Sauce Packet Recycling Program Nationwide

The fast food chain is partnering with TerraCycle to reduce its carbon footprint.

Courtesy of Taco Bell

Taco Bell hot sauce packets have their own place in American culture. Beyond the burritos, the tacos, and the Crunchwrap Supreme, the sauce packets have established their own beloved audience. Whether that's because you put four packets of Mild Sauce on a taco or hoard the extras from your order to put on other food later, there's a deep love for those little packets.

Now, Taco Bell wants to expand that love into helping the planet. According to the company, 8.2 billion single-use film packets are thrown away in the US each year. The fast food chain is partnering with TerraCycle, an international recycling company that specializes in collecting items that aren't recyclable and using them to make new items. This is an extension of an earlier program from April to make the sauce packets recyclable.

Customers will be able to turn their sauce packets into TerraCycle with four steps. First, sign up for a TerraCycle account online, then collect your sauce packets in a cardboard box or other recyclable container, and when the box is full, log into your TerraCycle and print a shipping label. You can take the labeled box to any UPS drop-off in your area. Voíla! You have just diverted waste. 

"As simple as it sounds, it's important to remember to first reduce our consumption habits, then reuse products wherever possible, and then recycle," Taco Bell's Director of Global Nutrition & Sustainability Missy Schaaphok said in a press release. "We're excited that TerraCycle has provided a way for us to extend the life cycle of our iconic sauce packets as we reevaluate the rest of our packaging suite."

Saving the sauce packets from landfills is the first step in reducing Taco Bell's waste. The company said it's working on creating other ways to reduce packaging waste.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.