I remember the joy of getting a Happy Meal toy. I also know now, though, that the last thing the world needs is more plastic. And McDonald’s clearly agrees. The fast-food chain has announced plans to make its kids’ collectibles more sustainable.
McDonald’s newest campaign (which we first heard about at DesignTAXI) will totally change its Happy Meal toys. All without depriving its young customers of a special treat. The fast-food empire says it will “drastically reduce plastics and offer sustainable Happy Meal toys” all around the globe by the end of 2025. That might not sound like a massive drop in our ocean-sized plastics problem. But it will help eliminate a lot of non-recyclable waste. From the company’s official announcement:
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. For comparison, the average person uses more than 220 pounds of plastic annually, so this is equivalent to more than 650,000 individuals eliminating plastics from their lives each year.
McDonald’s has already been working towards using more sustainable packaging. And its Happy Meal toy changeover has already started. Restaurants in the UK, Ireland, and France have given out sustainably-made toys of the Minions. That led to a “30% reduction in virgin fossil fuel-based plastic use since 2018.” And McDonald’s is looking into ways to move beyond just the plastics used in its toys. The company is in the “early stages of exploring further positive impact” in UK and Japan locations by making playgrounds and trays from recycled toys.
Getting a Happy Meal toy was always a big deal when I was a kid. It always will be. Toys are the best. But making something fun that also doesn’t harm the environment is even better.