Be honest. How many Happy Meal toys have you found on the floor of your minivan? Or stepped on after the kids went to sleep? There’s nothing wrong with a little Batman figure or whatever to keep your kids occupied when they’re eating their cheeseburger and fries, but it does create a lot of plastic waste. So to be more environmentally-friendly, McDonald’s announced on Tuesday that it will be phasing out plastic toys in kids’ Happy Meals. But don’t worry, the company’s idea for a replacement sounds sustainable and entertaining for kids.
More than 1 billion Happy Meals are sold around the world every year, which contributes to a significant amount of virgin plastic use for those little toys that come with the food. As such, McDonald’s told the Associated Press it plans to reduce its virgin fossil fuel based plastic use by 90% by 2025, phasing out those plastic toys in favor of toys made with a cardboard pieces that kids can put together themselves. According to CNN, the new toys will be in your kid’s Happy Meal in January 2022.
“Our next generation of customers care deeply about protecting the planet and what we can do to help make our business more sustainable. We’re always exploring where we can drive greater impact, including the transformation of beloved icons like the Happy Meal,” Jenny McColloch, McDonald’s chief sustainability officer, said in a statement shared by QSR Magazine. “With this transition for our toys, we’re working closely with suppliers, families, and play experts and engineers to introduce more sustainable, innovative designs and help drive demand for recycled materials, to keep McDonald’s communities and beyond smiling for generations to come.”
Happy Meals first launched for kids in 1979, after an employee at a McDonald’s in Guatemala initially came up with the idea of making a meal for kids called “Menu Ronald” with a burger, french fries, a drink, and a small sundae. Toys were eventually introduced when the Happy Meal came to the United States, and the concept has been evolving ever since. Toys have changed, healthier options have been added, and now the company is working to make those meals more environmentally sustainable. As long as the fries stay the same, we’re all good.