McDonalds UK scraps plastic Happy Meal toys

Kids’ meals will include soft toys, paper novelties or books from 2021, removing 3000 metric tons of plastic from the business

Written by Rhys Thomas

Posted 25.03.2020 | Retail

McDonalds UK scraps plastic Happy Meal toys thumbnail

McDonalds will no longer offer plastic toys as a gift alongside burgers, nuggets and fries in Happy Meals across the UK and Ireland from 2021.

Scrapping hard plastic toys will reduce the amount of plastic the business uses by 3000 tonnes from next year, the fast food giant says, making it the most impactful single measure McDonald’s has introduced in a bid to cut down on unnecessary plastic waste.

In 2021, the Happy Meal will only include soft toys, sustainable paper-based gifts or books, as the company works to find sustainable alternatives to hard plastic.

McDonalds closed this week as part of the UK’s lockdown of non-essential retail and restaurants. When it re-opens, the burger chain will begin piloting a number of additional ways to cut down on plastic. Paper packaging will, for the first time, be trialled for Happy Meal toys, and paper wrap will be used for books from August. It hopes this will cut a further 200 tonnes of virgin plastic from circulation.

Keith Kenny, VP, McDonald’s Global Sustainability says: “Globally, McDonald’s is committed to sustainable sourcing and to exploring the production of more sustainable Happy Meal Toys that continue to delight customers and families.”

From May, should restaurants be reopened, customers will be offered the choice of either a toy or a book with each Happy Meal, giving consumers the opportunity to opt out of plastic toys early. 

The burger joint will also be running a plastic toy amnesty. For five weeks, customers can donate unwanted plastic toys which will be recycled and turned into play equipment for the Ronald McDonald House Charities in the UK and Ireland.

Gareth Helm, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, UK & Ireland adds: “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.”

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