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McDonalds to reduce plastic in Happy Meal toys

September 21, 2021

By 2025, the fast-food chain aims to "drastically" cut plastic in Happy Meal toys worldwide. More-sustainable toys could be made from cardboard and recycled materials, the company says.

A cardboard McDonald’s Happy Meal toy is shown with a Happy Meal box
Three-dimensional cardboard toys are among the options McDonald's is consideringImage: Dee-Ann Durbin/AP Photo/picture alliance

US-based fast-food giant McDonald's announced plans on Tuesday to reduce plastic in its famous Happy Meal toys.

McDonald's said it was considering alternatives, such as three-dimensional cardboard toys or board games with plant-based or recycled materials, to help it "drastically reduce plastics." 

Sustainable Happy Meal toys will be rolled out by the end of 2025, McDonald's said.

"In a few more years, every Happy Meal toy in every Happy Meal around the world, no matter where you are, will be more sustainable," said the company’s chief sustainability officer, Jenny McColloch.

McDonald's restaurants in the UK and Ireland already offer only soft toys, paper-based toys or books with the kids meal. 

Eliminating 90% of 'virgin' plastic

McDonald's sells more than 1 billion toys each year.

"Transitioning to more renewable, recycled, and certified materials for our Happy Meal toys will result in an approximately 90% reduction in virgin fossil fuel-based plastic use against a 2018 baseline," McDonald's said in a statement. 

In recent years, the world's largest restaurant chain has tried to respond to criticism over its use of plastic.

In 2018, Mcdonald's said it would make recycling available in all of its restaurants by 2025. The company has also switched to environmentally friendly packaging materials. 

As the name implies, virgin plastic is newly produced rather than recycled. Since the 1950s, roughly 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced, with only around 9% of that recycled.

Trash – A problem to be avoided!

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