McDonald's Is Getting Rid of Plastic Happy Meal Toys

The company is committed to replacing plastics with paper, recyclable, and plant-based toys.


A few years back, a pair of elementary school students created a petition demanding fast food giants McDonald's and Burger King rethink giving out plastic toys. The call to action, which garnered nearly half a million signatures, had an impact, and Burger King responded shortly after promising to make changes.

Now, over two years since that petition hit the web, McDonald's has also decided to nix plastic toys from its Happy Meals. On Tuesday, Chief Sustainability Officer Jenny McColloch announced the news in a blog post, pledging to "drastically reduce plastics" and instead offer sustainable Happy Meal toys worldwide by the end of 2025.

"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," McColloch said in the post. "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." 

The golden-arched fast food joint said that it will move toward paper toys and hard or plush toys made of recyclable and plant-based materials. In fact, markets like UK, Ireland, and France have already introduced new toys under this mission, which has resulted in a 30% reduction in virgin fossil fuel-based plastic since 2018, the company reports.

"Protecting the planet for our shared future demands that we look at all parts of our business, including the customer experience," McColloch added. "I'm proud that nothing is off the table for our leadership, partners, and families. Together, we're expanding our positive impact on the environment through the transformation of one of McDonald's most beloved icons." 

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.