Burger King ends free plastic toy meal promotions

The latest moves by business to cut the use of plastic has seen fast-food giants Burger King and McDonald’s announced they are to end the giving of free plastic toys with children’s meals. Burger King announced the decision, which could save approximately 320 tonnes of plastic waste a year, following a petition by two schoolgirls. Sisters Ella and Caitlin McEwan launched a petition on Change.org to get McDonald’s and Burger King to “think of the environment” and stop giving children the plastic toys.

The nine-year-old and the seven-year-old said in the petition: “We like to go to eat at Burger King and McDonald’s, but children only play with the plastic toys they give us for a few minutes before they get thrown away and harm animals and pollute the sea.” Burger King said the campaign, which has collected more than half a million signatures, with a target of one million, had spurred it on. As part of the campaign, called ‘The Meltdown’, Burger King installed ‘amnesty bins’ in its UK restaurants, where people could drop off old plastic meal toys.

These were recycled to create play areas or items such as restaurant trays. Katie Evans, marketing director at Burger King UK, said: “This is an opportunity for us to lead radical change in our industry and we know we can positively contribute to finding new, more sustainable solutions, long term.” Work is currently underway across all of Burger King markets to look at how it can completely move away from non-biodegradable plastic toys by 2025. Meanwhile, McDonald’s customers will be able to swap the plastic toys given in its Happy Meals for a fruit bag, and from next year, for a book. Around 1.2 billion

Happy Meals are sold globally every year. Paul Pomroy, chief executive of McDonald’s UK and Ireland, said that the company would run trials, in order to give customers a choice where they can choose not to have a toy or gift. Earlier this year, McDonald’s announced it would be removing McFlurry lids and single-use plastic salad bowls from its restaurants. It has committed to ensuring all its packaging comes from renewable or recycled sources by 2025.

The date has also been chosen by Sainsbury’s, the latest supermarket to target packaging waste, pledging to halve the amount of plastic used in its stores by 2025. Its customers will have to change their behavior to achieve the “bold ambition” it said, for example by buying milk in plastic pouches. It is also inviting the public and business partners to submit new ideas.

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