Taco Bell has a plan in place to recycle some of the 8 billion pounds of used sauce packets that go into U.S. landfills every year.
The fast food chain is rolling out a nationwide pilot program for customers to send used sauce packets back through the mail. The program, which was initially announced as a trial in April, was created with recycling company TerraCycle to "divert as many used sauce packets as possible away from landfills" and reuse them.
Here's how it works: Customers sign up for a TerraCycle account, collect empty sauce packets in a recyclable container, print a free shipping label from TerraCycle's website and ship the box back via UPS. Taco Bell will display QR codes and other signage in various parts of restaurants to promote the program and encourage sign-ups.
Rather than dropping off the used sauce packets at a restaurant, Taco Bell is using the mail, because a "majority" of transactions are taking place at its drive-thru and are eaten out-of-restaurant. It also discovered this was the preferred way for customers during its pilot launch and the mail helps them "minimize their transportation footprint and ship their box of saved sauce packets once full."
The massive number of sauce packets thrown out every year is potentially environmentally damaging. About 710 million metric tons of plastic will pollute the environment by 2040 if action isn't taken, according to a study published in "Science."
Taco Bell is one of the first food brands to use TerraCycle, a New Jersey-based company that helps big businesses become greener. It has worked with Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Nestlé to help manufacture reusable packaging in place of single-use packages that end up in landfills.
The taco chain is hoping that by 2025, packaging used by its customers will be fully "recyclable, compostable, or reusable" across all of its 7,000 global locations. It said that this program is the "first step, but not the final step" in becoming a more sustainable brand.
Last year, Taco Bell claimed it had ditched its popular Mexican Pizza because of its packaging, which amounted the use of more than 7 million pounds of paperboard per year.
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