A sauce packet from a fast-food restaurant might seem like the ultimate throwaway item. But Taco Bell is telling its customers to hold on to those packets, so they can be recycled and reused. Hot, mild, diablo — whatever sauce they contain, more than 8 billion of the packets wind up in landfills each year, the company says.

The new campaign is part of an effort to cut down on waste and find a future for single-use food packaging, the restaurant chain says. Taco Bell is teaming up with recycling firm TerraCycle, which has carved out a niche by converting non-recyclable products and waste into raw materials that can then be used in new products.

"Recycling just got saucy," Taco Bell says on its website.

It may seem frivolous to prioritize recycling sauce packets, but consider this: If everyone on the planet recycled one Taco Bell sauce packet, there'd still be another 420 million packets heading to a landfill in an average year.

To divert those packets, Taco Bell at first tried ways to collect the sauces inside its restaurants. But with most of its business now taking place via takeaway rather than in-store orders, the company is asking customers to collect the packets and ship them to TerraCycle, using free shipping labels.

When TerraCycle gets the packets, it will clean them before melting them down and molding them into a plastic that can be used to make other items.

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