Fast food giants McDonald’s and Burger King have announced that they will be removing plastic toys from their children’s meals altogether, or offering customers the chance to swap them out, in order to reduce waste.
From today (19 Sep) Burger King will remove all plastic toys from meals served in the UK in an effort that is predicted to save 320 tonnes of waste per year.
And its rival, McDonald’s, is allowing ethically-minded customers to swap the plastic toys for fruit bags or books. The fruit bag option will be available in October, with the book option being rolled out early next year.
‘Think of the environment’
The move follows a petition from Southampton sisters Ella and Caitlin McEwan which called on the companies to ‘think of the environment’, which attracted more than half a million signatures.
Burger King UK chief executive Alasdair Murdoch said, “We’re making a start. This is a step in the right direction. If it makes other competitors move their practices forward, that can only be a good thing.”
The move comes as part of a wider commitment from fast food chains which saw McDonald’s abandon single-use plastic straws and salad packaging earlier this year.
McDonald’s UK and Ireland chief executive Paul Pomroy said, “We recognise that some people may not want a plastic Happy Meal toy, but we also know that the gifts provide fun for many families and children.
“That’s why we’ll be running these trials, in order to give our customers a choice; they also can choose not to have a toy or gift at all.
“It’s important we understand what our customers want and we’ll learn a lot from whether they choose a fruit bag or a book over a toy.
“At the same time, we will be evolving what the toy or gift is – new authors as part of Happy Readers, paper-based toys and board games.
“We know that our Happy Meal is much loved by our customers so any changes need to be carefully considered.”
Burger King has also announced that it will be installing amnesty bins for plastic toys – from their own meals or elsewhere – and collected plastic waste will be turned into things like new play areas or interactive trays that are used in the restaurants.