Sep 21, 2021 - Economy & Business

McDonald's to phase out plastic toys in Happy Meals by 2025

A McDonald's employee handing a customer a Happy Meal through the drive through in Peru, Illinois, in March 2019.
A McDonald's employee handing a customer a Happy Meal through the drive through in Peru, Illinois, in March 2019. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

McDonald's announced plans Tuesday to phase out plastic toys in its Happy Meals worldwide by the end of 2025 and instead offer playthings made from recycled or bio-based and plant-derived materials.

Why it matters: The company did not disclose how many Happy Meals and toys it sells every day, but it said the new effort will reduce the amount of virgin plastic it uses annually in those meals by 90% compared to 2018 levels.

  • That reduction would be equivalent to more than 650,000 people eliminating plastics from their lives each year, the company said.

What they're saying: "Protecting the planet for our shared future demands that we look at all parts of our business, including the customer experience," Jenny McColloch, the company's chief sustainability officer, said in a statement.

  • "Together, we’re expanding our positive impact on the environment through the transformation of one of McDonald’s most beloved icons," McColloch added.

The big picture: The company has started offering only soft toys, paper-based toys or books in restaurants in the United Kingdom, France and Ireland.

  • It is also exploring if playground equipment and restaurant trays can be made from recycled plastic toys.
  • While single-use take-out food and drink containers make up the vast majority of environmentally hazardous plastic pollution around the world, mass-produced toys like those found in Happy Meals likely account for a small percentage of the litter.

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