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Taco Bell Rolls Out Recyclable Cold Cups and Lids Across US

Taco Bell
(Photo: Taco Bell’s new cups. Credit: Reddit user MSOffice)

Taco Bell announced the rollout of recyclable cold cups and lids in all of its 7,000 restaurants across the United States. The Yum Brands chain says this accounts for 95% of the drinks they sell.

The move is part of Taco Bell’s new commitment to make 100% of its restaurant cups recyclable by 2021, one that the chain hopes to reach with help from its partners at the NextGen Cup Consortium Challenge.

Formed in early 2018 with an investment from Starbucks and managed by Closed Loop Partners, the NextGen Cup Consortium Challenge is an industry initiative working to identify and commercialize next-generation cups. It brings together entrepreneurs, industry, and recyclers around finding solutions. McDonald’s became a founding partner alongside Starbucks last July.

Yum Brands joined the consortium as a supporting partner. The Coca-Cola Company is the other supporting partner, and the WWF serves as an advisor for the whole effort.

“We decided to scratch the idea of New Year’s resolutions and instead make New Year’s commitments,” said Julie Masino, Taco Bell North America president. “From simplifying our ingredients while improving food quality, to creating more new jobs, to improving our recycling efforts, these are just some of our promises to keep doing even better and being even better.”

Yum Brands, which also owns Pizza Hut and KFC, stopped providing plastic caps and straws at its KFC outlets in Singapore last summer, but hasn’t made widespread changes to the use of single-use plastic straws at its chains.

The Louisville-based company issued this statement to Louisville Business First last year in response to a question about plastic straws: “Our brands remain focused on recycling and waste reduction and are actively working with our suppliers around the world on a number of sustainable, paper-based packaging options to ensure that every detail has been considered with both the guest experience and the environment in mind.”

Vegetarian Menu Testing

Taco Bell plans to test its first dedicated vegetarian menu in stores later this year. The chain says it already has more than 8 million vegetarian combinations and sells 350 million vegetarian items annually. Taco Bell became the first quick service restaurant to offer American Vegetarian Association certified food options.

The tests will involve a vegetarian menu board, limited-time vegetarian and vegan items, and a new emphasis on current options, CNN Business reported. These experiments come at a time when plant-based meats are gaining popularity at American chain restaurants.

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