McDonald’s pledges to remove non-sustainable plastic from Happy Meals


MCDONALD’S UK and Ireland will no longer include toys made from non-recycled or non-renewable forms of hard plastic in their Happy Meals.

In 2021, the Happy Meal will only include soft toys, sustainable paper-based gifts or books as the company works to find sustainable alternatives to hard plastic.

This represents the biggest reduction in plastic by McDonald’s UK and Ireland to date and is the next step in its mission to reduce its environmental impact across all areas of the business.

The move will eliminate over 3,000 metric tons of non-sustainable plastic.

Gareth Helm, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, UK & Ireland, commented:“We care passionately about the environment and are committed to reducing plastic across our business including within our Happy Meal.

“Families have high expectations of us and we’re working as hard as we can to give them the confidence that their Happy Meal is as sustainable as possible.

“Getting that right is a big responsibility, but we believe the changes we’re making today have the potential to make a big difference.

“We want to use our reach and influence to bring customers with us on the journey towards more sustainable living.

“This announcement reflects our mission to continue to trial, test and learn from innovative sustainable solutions.

“Most importantly, we’re committed to listening to our customers and working with our suppliers to ensure we are taking every possible opportunity to provide quality food sourced, made, packaged and enjoyed responsibly.”

Between now and 2021 McDonald’s will carry out several new sustainability initiatives to ‘give customers the confidence that their Happy Meal is as sustainable as possible’:

  • From March 2020, in a first for the UK business, McDonald’s will trial paper packaging for any Happy Meal toy. The paper packaging will also be introduced for Happy Meal books from August, removing the plastic wrapping entirely from 2021 and a further 200 tonnes of plastic.
  • From May 2020, McDonald’s will offer everyone the choice of either a book or a toy with every Happy Meal in the UK and Ireland. This gives families the choice to opt out of a plastic gift in every restaurant. This initiative builds on the successful Happy Readers promotion, which has distributed over 90 million books with the Happy Meal in the last seven years.
  • From May 2020, McDonald’s will run a five-week nationwide toy amnesty, collecting any unwanted plastic toys in its 1,350 restaurants and recycling the returned plastic into play equipment for Ronald McDonald House Charities across the UK and Ireland.

Keith Kenny, VP of McDonald’s Global Sustainability, added: “Globally, McDonald’s is committed to sustainable sourcing and to exploring the production of more sustainable Happy Meal Toys that continue to delight customers and families.

“We are excited to use learnings from these initiatives in the UK and Ireland and other market sustainability programs to inform our global approach.”