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McDonald's pledge to reduce Happy Meal plastic 'a little bit of greenwashing'

McDonald’s pledge to make Happy Meal toys more sustainable by using less plastic is “a little...
Michael Staines
Michael Staines

11.31 22 Sep 2021


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McDonald's pledge to reduce Ha...

McDonald's pledge to reduce Happy Meal plastic 'a little bit of greenwashing'

Michael Staines
Michael Staines

11.31 22 Sep 2021


Share this article


McDonald’s pledge to make Happy Meal toys more sustainable by using less plastic is “a little bit of greenwashing,” according to an environmental activist.

The fast-food giant has promised to use significantly less plastic in its toys in the US market – replacing them with 3-D paper-based toys children can assemble themselves and other reduced-plastic alternatives.

The new toys are due to be rolled out across the US in January 2022.

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In Ireland and the UK, McDonald’s removed toys made from non-recycled or non-renewable forms of hard plastic earlier this year.

Since January, the company offers soft toys, paper-based toys or books with its Happy Meals.

McDonald's pledge to reduce Happy Meal plastic 'a little bit of greenwashing'

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On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, VOICE (Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment) Coordinator Mindy O’Brien said it is time to get rid of the toys altogether.

“Part of me thinks this is a little bit of greenwashing,” she said. “There has been a campaign for the last five years or so asking McDonalds to remove their happy meal toys from the box because often kids will look at them and then throw them away.

“They really are not used, they are not valued and they are just more tat. So, I think they should just remove them from the meals altogether.”

McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski with a reduced-plastic Happy Meal toy, 13-08-2021. Image: Jean-Marc Giboux/AP/Press Association Images McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski with a reduced-plastic Happy Meal toy, 13-08-2021. Image: Jean-Marc Giboux/AP/Press Association Images

She said the toys have an environmental toll even with the plastic removed.

“Maybe it is made from wood or something, but it is not going to be recycled,” she said. “People will just throw away or they will throw it in the plastic packaging into the rubbish bin.”

“There are still a lot of resources and water that is embedded in that product and if people are going to look at it for one minute or five minutes or even a day before throwing it away, is that really a good thing for the environment to make this stuff in the first place?

“It is kind of a good message going into Christmas, we need to look at our purchasing habits. Do we need to buy all the tat for Christmas, or should we buy something that will be actually used?”

She said the fast-food giant could begin by asking customers at the till whether they want they toy or waiting for a customer to ask for one before including it in their meal.

You can listen back here:

McDonald's pledge to reduce Happy Meal plastic 'a little bit of greenwashing'

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Climate Change Environment Fast Food Happy Meal McDonalds Mindy O'Brien Plastic Pollution Toy

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