More than 400,000 people have thrown their support behind a petition started by primary school sisters Ella and Caitlin McEwan to ban Happy Meal toys.
Inspired by their lessons on the environment and the “problem of plastic”, the nine and seven-year-old took to the internet to propose a different approach for McDonald’s and Burger King.
Both admit that while they like the burgers and chicken nuggets, they’d rather cut back on plastic and instead be served up a book or cardboard game along with their meal.
McDonald’s has in fact already trialled book giveaways when it partnered earlier this year with the Roald Dahl Story Company to offer a copy of Matilda, Fantabulous BFG or a selection of other titles with its kids’ meals.
The fast food chain has said that "in the coming months in the UK, customers will see more books, board games and soft toys in our Happy Meals”, leading to a 60 per cent reduction in the number of plastic hardlines given away. But it adds the plan was already in the works and not a result of the media and public attention various petitions have garnered.
Other kids have joined the cause, including eight-year-old Jacob Douglas from Essex who sent an open letter to the golden arches, explaining that he would be “very happy” if toys were removed from Happy Meals.
McDonald’s responded directly, saying it is “looking at alternatives that will keep our Happy Meals fun without causing damage to our environment."
Burger King will follow suit, aiming to have a “more sustainable toy solution in place by 2020” and run a trial of removing toys altogether, though it did not detail what the alternatives might be.