This Employee Video Shows How Much Tea Taco Bell Wastes

A remix of Britney Spears' "Toxic" plays in the background as one Taco Bell employee demonstrates just how much tea they have to pour down the drain in a recent TikTok video. The video focuses on the employee disposing of two large dispensers of Lipton sweet and unsweetened tea at their undisclosed Taco Bell location, likely at the end of the day. The containers, filled to the brim, get poured down the kitchen sink and could amount to gallons of waste between both dispensers. Restaurant workers from across the internet chimed in with comments to the video like "we be having like 6 them as waste at McDonald's," and "just take it with you [and] give it to homeless people or a food shelter."

Others couldn't believe the containers didn't use liners and wondered why this particular restaurant didn't use bagged tea. The same user that posted the tea video, @vincentfwu, has used their TikTok channel to show off more behind-the-scenes footage from their Taco Bell restaurant (via Newsweek). Other videos showed how the employee cleaned the floors by flooding the area with water and mopping the grime into plugs on the floor. Another clip showed workers using carbonated water from the restaurant's soda fountain to clean surfaces like grills. This footage caused a stir, with many commenting on the amount of liquid that was completely wasted. The water usage particularly strikes a chord, given Taco Bell's latest set of sweeping environmental policies.

A strike against Taco Bell

According to Taco Bell, the chain has recognized how much waste it has the potential to produce. Now, the chain claims to teach its team members how much food to create per order to reduce excessive waste. Despite the extra training, the alleged Taco Bell employee still recorded some major tea loss in the TikTok video. While the video didn't explicitly spell out just how much tea went down the drain, each container appeared to hold approximately five gallons of the beverage (via Webrestaurant Store). Using that estimate, combined together, the video possibly documents a solid 10-gallon loss of tea. That's a similar amount of water used in a five-minute shower, according to Big Bathroom Inspiration.

Trying to find ways to save the tea can prove challenging in the best of times. When some restaurants have leftover coffee, the shops occasionally find ways to repurpose the leftovers into ice cubes, different coffee drinks, and as an ingredient for baked goods (via Restaurant Business). While this method of recycling works for black coffee, finding a way to use tea proves a bit more challenging. According to Let's Drink Tea, due to the sugar content, brewed iced tea only has a shelf life of eight hours, even when stored in a refrigerator. While the product doesn't present a health hazard after this amount of time, it begins to lose flavor, a trait that Taco Bell probably doesn't want to pass on to consumers. The inclusion of sugar in iced tea also promotes bacterial growth, making it a poor item to keep reusing long after you brew it.

Taco Bell has been trying to turn over a new ecological leaf

The video demonstrating all of the lost tea didn't surprise fellow restaurant employees in TikTok's comment section, but it doesn't bode well with Taco Bell's latest environmental goals. According to Waste 360, the brand has plans to go as green as possible by 2025, making all of its customer-facing products compostable, recyclable, or reusable in the next few years. In addition to new wrapping material, the brand also announced plans to feature recycling and composting bins in its restaurants whenever possible. The chain even made waves by recently announcing that it plans to reuse hot sauce packets in an effort to reduce its ecological footprint (via CNN). These sweeping changes mark a whole new era for Taco Bell.

With this latest TikTok video, the inner workings of Taco Bell have allegedly been laid bare for all to see. The massive amount of tea dumped may reflect just one day, but you could assume this massive pour-out happens on a regular basis if individual restaurants don't sell their whole batch. That, coupled with the amount of water used for draining the sinks, points to practices that don't exactly line up with Taco Bell's greener vision. With any luck, Taco Bell should examine its water use policies and help reduce the amount of tea brewed in future batches to continue to minimize its environmental impacts across each of its restaurants.