McDonald's to swap plastic Happy Meal toys for eco-friendly alternative

17 March 2020, 10:23

File photo: Plastic toys will be replaced from 2021
File photo: Plastic toys will be replaced from 2021. Picture: PA

By Megan White

McDonald's will replace its famous Happy Meal toys with non-plastic versions from next year in a bid to reduce its environmental impact.

The fast food giant said that from 2021, Happy Meals will come with a soft toy, a book, or a paper-based toy.

The effort could save more than 3,000 metric tonnes of plastic at its UK business, which would be its biggest single reduction to date.

It will start trialling the new toys from May, when parents and children will be offered to swap their plastic toys for a book or paper toy when they buy a meal.

This will let eco-friendly customers choose to opt out of the plastic toys in every outlet.

It will also run a "toy amnesty" to let customers bring in unwanted plastic toys in its 1,350 sites across the UK.

McDonald's will then melt the plastic down and make it into toys for its charity in the UK and Ireland.

Gareth Helm, the company's chief marketing officer in the UK, said: "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.

"Getting that right is a big responsibility, but we believe the changes we're making today have the potential to make a big difference."

The company has in the past committed to reducing emissions by 36 per cent by the end of the decade, and to use recycled or renewable materials in all its packaging by 2025.

The company has removed the lids from its McFlurry ice creams, saving 385 tonnes of plastic, replaced its salad boxes with ones that can be recycled as paper, and rolled-out paper straws last year.