McDonald’s UK and Ireland to trial ‘swapping out’ Happy Meal toy to reduce plastic

McDonald’s UK and Ireland has announced it will be offering more choice on the Happy Meal, giving customers the option to ‘swap out’ the Happy Meal toy. Next month, in selected restaurants, the business will provide customers with the option to swap the toy for a fruit bag, and in early 2020 will also run a trial of always offering customers a choice between a book and a toy.

The tests come as a the business continues on its journey to reduce plastic – following the recent roll-out of paper straws in restaurants, the removal of McFlurry plastic lids, and the removal of single-use plastic from McDonald’s salads – with all main meal and side salads now served in cardboard containers. Together these changes will reduce plastic waste by 1005 metric tonnes annually.

Paul Pomroy, the CEO of McDonald’s UK and Ireland, said: “We care passionately about the environment, and we have a commitment to reducing plastic across our business – that includes the Happy Meal. 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.”

In addition to the trials of ‘fruit bag or toy’ and ‘book or toy’, McDonald’s will continue to offer a range of different gifts as part of the Happy Meal – including a paper-based toy at Halloween 2020.

Happy Meal promotions already include board games and books; most recently launching a partnership with the “World Of David Walliams” as part of Happy Readers – offering a free book from the author’s best-selling series ‘The World’s Worst Children.’ Since 2013 McDonald’s has given away 70 million books to British children.

Longer term, McDonald’s will continue to work with suppliers to move towards more sustainably sourced, renewable, recyclable materials for Happy Meal gifts.

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