McDonald’s Scrapping Plastic Toys In Happy Meals From Next Year
It’s finally time for eco-friendly Happy Meals, as McDonald’s is scrapping plastic toys from next year in a bid to reduce its environmental impact.
The fast food chain’s long-famous children’s treats will take the form of a soft toy, a book or another paper-based product from 2021 onward, with moves to phase out plastic toys later this year.
The company’s announcement comes after Ella McEwan, 10, and Caitlin McEwan, eight, amassed more than 565,000 signatures on a petition calling on McDonald’s and Burger King to stop handing out plastic playthings (the latter chain took positive action on the matter last year).
McDonald’s hopes that the axing of plastic from Happy Meals will lead to a titanic cut of 3,000 metric tonnes of the stuff – if this figure comes to fruition, it’d be the chain’s single biggest reduction to date.
Gareth Helm, the company’s chief marketing officer in the UK, said:
We care passionately about the environment and are committed to reducing plastic across our business including within our Happy Meal. Families have high expectations of us and we’re working as hard as we can to give them the confidence that their Happy Meal is as sustainable as possible.
Getting that right is a big responsibility, but we believe the changes we’re making today have the potential to make a big difference.
In May this year, customers will be able to opt out of receiving plastic with their Happy Meal, instead choosing a book or paper-based toy from any outlet (over the past seven years, more than 90 million books have been given away in meals as part of the company’s Happy Readers initiative).
The company has also announced a ‘toy amnesty’, in which customers will be able to bring any unwanted plastic toys to restaurants which will be later melted down and transformed into new toys and playground equipment for its charity across the UK and Ireland.
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of campaign group A Plastic Planet, told inews in response to the chain’s move:
Well done to McDonald’s for taking action and considering the impact their products will have on those who will inherit the earth. Now is the time for them to push on. Eliminate plastic from their restaurants and lead the fast-food industry forward in tackling the crisis.
It follows a number of green efforts in recent years, such as the scrapping of plastic straws, removing the lids from McFlurries and replacing salad boxes with recyclable containers. The company has also previously pledged to use recycled or renewable materials in all packaging by 2025.
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