Finally – a Truly Happy Meal

As public pressure around plastic pollution mounts, McDonald’s takes a step in the right direction

Can you picture 3,000 metric tonnes of plastic?

No, neither can I.

But that is what McDonald’s expects to remove from their business simply by removing plastic toys from their Happy Meals.

The company has announced that, from 2021, Happy Meals will include soft toys or sustainable paper gifts or books. The books follow on from the Happy Readers initiative which has given out 90 million books over the past 7 years.

It’s another wonderful example of the positive pressure we as customers can put on big brands.

After learning about the environment at school, two girls – Ella (aged 10) and Caitlin (aged 8) – started a petition calling on McDonald’s and Burger King to ‘think of the environment and stop giving plastic toys with their kids meals’.

Ella and Caitlin started a petition calling on McDonald's and Burger King to ban plastic toys
Ella and Caitlin started a petition calling on McDonald’s and Burger King to ban plastic toys

The petition says that children only play with these toys for a few minutes before being thrown away – lasting hundreds of years in landfill or finding their way into rivers and oceans where they can harm animals.

‘We want anything they give to us to be sustainable so we can protect the planet for us and for future generations…It’s not enough to make recyclable plastic toys – big, rich companies shouldn’t be making toys out of plastic at all.’

The petition has almost 566,000 signatures.

‘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.

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.’

Gareth Helm, Senior VP and Chief Marketing Office, UK and Ireland

Burger King stopped offering plastic toys in September 2019, saving 320 tonnes annually, without the need for a phased approach. McDonald’s seems to be taking the slow road, but in this case the destination is the point.

Happy news indeed going into the weekend.

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