Finally, There's a Way to Recycle Your Drawer Full of Old Taco Bell Sauce Packets

Willis Lam, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Willis Lam, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0 / Willis Lam, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Whether you go to Taco Bell for the tacos, burritos, or Crunchwrap Supreme, you're likely getting a few hot sauce packets with your order. The fast-food chain's spicy condiments—which range in heat levels from mild to diablo—are a signature part of the brand, but they're also a major source of single-use plastic. Each year, more than 8 billion discarded Taco Bell sauce packets end up in landfills. To tackle this problem, the company is launching a program to recycle the tiny packages at the bottom of your bag.

NPR reports that the new sustainability initiative is a collaboration between Taco Bell and the recycling firm TerraCycle. Once customers have squeezed their preferred sauce over their food, they're encouraged to save the used packets in a cardboard box instead of tossing them in the trash. As the container starts filling up, they can create an account with TerraCycle and print a free shipping label to stick to the box. The customer then ships the package via UPS, and TerraCycle handles converting the plastic into raw materials for reuse.

The project is Taco Bell's attempt to make its packaging practices a little gentler on the environment. Originally, the company wanted to set up packet collection boxes in stores, but with the majority of its meals now being ordered for takeout or delivery, giving customers the option to mail their recyclables makes more sense. The program may not be worth it for the occasional Taco Bell patron, but it could be appealing to anyone with a drawer full of fire hot sauce packets at home.

You can learn more about the initiative and sign up to take part here. Hopefully this effort is more successful than these discontinued menu items from Taco Bell's history.

[h/t NPR]