Burger King will no longer serve plastic toys alongside the burgers and fries in its children’s meals, saving an estimated 320 tonnes of single-use plastic each year.
The ban comes into effect from today, when Burger King will be flame grilling more than just Whoppers through an initiative called The Meltdown. Until the end of the month, kids are invited to donate unwanted plastic toys to be melted down and repurposed. Donations will be rewarded with a free King Junior meal, and kids can pick up a set of special stickers, crowns and meal boxes to feel part of the project.
“Removing plastic toys from our kids’ meals represents a huge step for the brand in the UK and we knew we couldn’t do this quietly,” says Katie Evans, Marketing Director at Burger King. “The provocative idea that [creative agency] JKR presented demonstrated the engagement we were looking for; we knew it would capture the nation’s attention and change kids’ meals forever. This is an opportunity for us to lead radical change in our industry and we know we can positively contribute to finding new, more sustainable solutions, long term.”
Any toys donated during The Meltdown campaign will be recycled by ‘circular economy’ company Pentatonic and reused to build play areas and surface tools.
Though the toy ban is initially restricted to the UK, Burger King’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Fernando Machado says it’s just the “first step towards change”, confirming “work is currently underway across all of our markets to look at how we can completely move away from non bio-degradable plastic toys by 2023.”
Rival burger chain McDonalds has responded with its own changes. Customers will be able to swap Happy Meals toys for either a book or fruit in the near future, though it is not ruling out promotional toys entirely.