McDonald’s New Initiative for Happy Meal Toys Is Sad News for Big Plastic

Every Happy Meal toy will be sustainable and made from more renewable, recycled or certified material by 2025

Five-year-old Andy Villatoro plays with a toy he received after ordering a Happy Meal at McDonald's as his father Carlos Villatoro (R) watches on November 3, 2010 in San Francisco, California. McDonald's is now switching away from plastic to more eco-friendly materials for toys in their Happy Meals.
The toys in a McDonald's Happy Meal are about to get more eco-friendly
David Paul Morris/Getty Images

The world’s largest restaurant chain is hoping to make environmentally-conscious customers smile by making big changes to the Happy Meal it has been serving for more than 40 years.

On Tuesday, McDonald’s announced that it plans to phase out the plastic in its Happy Meal toys, starting immediately, in an effort to cut the use of virgin fossil-fuel-based plastics by 90% by the end of 2025. According to the Chicago-based burger giant, switching to making Happy Meal toys out of renewable, recycled or certified materials (like bio-based and plant-derived materials or certified fiber) will be the equivalent to 650,000 people stopping the use of plastic every year.

“We’re drastically reducing plastics in toys while offering all the games, action heroes and collectibles that continue to spark kids’ imaginations and love of play,” according to the chain. “And good news: we’ve already started. The transition to more sustainable Happy Meal toys is well underway in countries such as the UK and Ireland, and complete in France. Efforts around the world, including these, have resulted already in a 30% reduction in virgin fossil fuel based plastic use since 2018.”

Fresh off a win on Monday Night Football, Randall Cobb of the Green Bay Packers and his sons got a chance to preview some of the prototypes for the new sustainable toys. Not sure why Cobb was picked, but he was kind enough to post photos of the new toys on Twitter.

Cobb’s photos indicate McDonald’s will be swapping out figures made out of less sustainable materials for books and cards made of more environmentally-friendly material.

McDonald’s, which buys around a billion toys a year globally for Happy Meals, will begin deploying the new toys in the U.S. in January and they will cost the same for restaurant franchisees as those currently sold, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Our entire supply chain has had to change with this,” McDonald’s VP of global marketing enablement Amy Murray told The Journal. “It has been a massive undertaking. All our franchisees and customers see what’s happening in the world. They really want McDonald’s to be relevant in the future.”

If the chain keeps making eco-conscious decisions as well as Shamrock Shakes for St. Patrick’s Day, we do too.


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