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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.

Go deeper: Vast majority of consumers concerned about plastic and packaging waste

Go deeper

Hot holiday toys may not be as scarce as predicted

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Good news for fretting parents: The doomsayers who've been sounding the alarm about 2021 holiday toy scarcities are being tempered by sanguine optimists.

Why it matters: While shopping early is definitely a good idea, fears of empty shelves and online shortages are probably overblown, given how skilled the toy industry has grown at managing global supply chains and pandemic-fueled demand for its products.

Top Dem says Big Oil put Earth on "brink" of catastrophe

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Don't expect a sedate House hearing Thursday on allegations that Big Oil has intentionally sown doubt about climate change.

What they're saying: "For far too long, Big Oil has escaped accountability for its central role in bringing our planet to the brink of a climate catastrophe. That ends today," Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, intends to say in her opening remarks shared with Axios.

29 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden lays out $1.75 trillion "framework" before Europe departure

Biden in Kearny, New Jersey, on Oct. 25. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

President Biden announced Thursday a "framework" for $1.75 trillion in social program and climate change spending after failing in prior efforts to win over his fellow Democrats on a much broader and costlier package.

Why it matters: Biden is gambling that by endorsing the broad contours of the proposal, which he was immediately planning to sell in a meeting with House Democrats before jetting off to Europe, House progressives will vote for his $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan if and when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brings it to the floor.