Taco Bell is going green with recycled hot sauce packets

Franchise Industry Trends - Taco Bell

Taco Bell partners with TerraCycle to reduce waste

In a leap toward the company’s ambitious environmental goal, Taco Bell has announced plans for recycling the 8.2 billion hot sauce packets that its customers normally squeeze – and then put in the trash – each year. The packets haven’t previously been recyclable, but that’s about to change. The newly announced initiative aligns with the fast food franchise’s efforts to make all of its packaging used by customers recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025. 

Taco Bell, a Yum Brands franchise, will launch the pioneering recycling program this year, according to a statement from the company. The program will provide takeout customers with an easy way to ship their used packets, at no charge, for recycling. 

Taco Bell is partnering with New Jersey-based TerraCycle, a company that specializes in conquering monster challenges such as recycling used diapers, packing peanuts, cigarette butts and personal protective equipment. TerraCycle is known for taking these items, cleaning them, melting them, and molding the materials into hard plastic that can be reused in new products. And those second-life products can even be recycled again.

Before this initiative, the food industry had “no widely available solution for recycling the flexible film packet that are commonly used for condiments,” Liz Matthews, global chief food innovation officer for Taco Bell, said in a statement from the company. “We’re thrilled to leverage the expertise of TerraCycle to recycle our iconic sauce packet packaging.”

Consumers don’t want to sacrifice the planet no matter how delicious the meal. Together, Taco Bell and TerraCycle will push the quick service industry by finally finding a way to recycle this type of product.

Tom Szaky, CEO at TerraCycle

TerraCycle CEO and founder Tom Szaky said that “consumers don’t want to sacrifice the planet no matter how delicious the meal. Together, Taco Bell and TerraCycle will push the quick service industry by finally finding a way to recycle this type of product. This effort takes us one step closer to keeping packets out of landfills and our mission of eliminating the idea of waste.” Founded in 2001, Terracycle works with companies in 20 countries and has received more than 200 awards for sustainability. 

Taco Bell, which has been franchising since 1964, has more than 7,000 restaurants in more than 30 countries worldwide. The company has publicly committed to reducing landfill waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Some of its previous actions have included switching to recyclable cups and lids for cold beverages as well as using sustainable palm oil and sustainable packaging such as recyclable paper bags. Last fall the company removed its popular Mexican Pizza from menus, with one of the key reasons being that the move would significantly cut the volume of packaging needed in the fast-food restaurants. 

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Mary Vinnedge is an award-winning journalist who has served as editor in chief, managing editor and senior editor at national and regional publications, including SUCCESS and Design NJ magazines. She also held reporting and editing roles at The Dallas Morning News and Charlotte Observer newspapers.

Before Mary began covering franchise news and trends as a staff writer for FranchiseWire and Franchise Consultant Magazine, she developed articles on topics ranging from lifestyle, education, health and science to home projects, horticulture, gardening, interior design and architecture. These articles included her reporting on academic news at her alma mater, Texas A&M University, when Mary worked in the marketing department of the Texas A&M Foundation. She continues to be a news junkie and subscribes to several publications.

Today Mary and her husband are empty nesters living on Galveston Island near Houston. The couple’s blended family – scattered around the United States – includes five children, four grandchildren and two very spoiled, very barky miniature schnauzer rescues.
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