McDonald’s has pledged to remove all non-sustainable hard plastic from toys included in its Happy Meals in the UK & Ireland, as the fast food chain continues efforts to reduce its impact on the environment
From 2021, every Happy Meal in the UK & Ireland will include either a soft toy, paper-based toy or book.
McDonald’s claimed the move would take more than 3,000 metric tonnes of plastic out of the business – the biggest reduction in plastic to date by the company in the UK & Ireland.
McDonald’s said that between now and 2021 it was trialling and testing several new sustainability initiatives for its Happy Meals.
This month, in a first for the UK business, McDonald’s will trial paper packaging for any Happy Meal toy. The paper packaging will also be introduced for Happy Meal books from August, removing the plastic polybag and a further 200 tonnes of plastic.
From May 2020, McDonald’s will offer everyone the choice of either a book or a toy with every Happy Meal in the UK & Ireland. This gives families the choice to opt out of a plastic gift in every restaurant.
The fast food chain is also running a five-week nationwide toy amnesty from May, collecting any unwanted plastic toys in its 1,350 restaurants and recycling the returned plastic into play equipment for Ronald McDonald House Charities across the UK & Ireland.
In the past 12 months, the company has removed plastic lids from the McFlurry, rolled out paper straws across its entire estate, developed a process with suppliers James Cropper and Veolia to recycle coffee cups and changed salad boxes to a fibre-based alternative.
It is also reviewing alternatives to its plastic cutlery and will begin trials in the coming months.
“We care passionately about the environment and are committed to reducing plastic across our business including within our Happy Meal,” said Gareth Helm, chief marketing officer in the UK & Ireland.
“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.
“We want to use our reach and influence to bring customers with us on the journey towards more sustainable living. Today’s announcement reflects our mission to continue to trial, test and learn from innovative sustainable solutions. Most importantly, we’re committed to listening to our customers and working with our suppliers to ensure we are taking every possible opportunity to provide quality food sourced, made, packaged and enjoyed responsibly.”
Keith Kenny, VP of McDonald’s global sustainability, added: “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.
“We are excited to use learnings from these initiatives in the UK & Ireland and other market sustainability programs to inform our global approach.”