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McDonald's begins phasing out plastic toys in Happy Meals

The burger giant said it’s working with toy companies to develop new ideas, such as three-dimensional cardboard superheroes kids can build.

WASHINGTON — McDonald’s plans to “drastically” reduce the plastic in its Happy Meal toys worldwide by 2025.

The company, which sells more than 1 billion toys each year, says the new goal will reduce its use of virgin plastic by 90%. McDonald's said Tuesday that it plans to have every toy made from more renewable, recycled, or certified materials like bio-based and plant-derived materials and certified fiber.

The burger giant added it’s working with toy companies to develop new ideas, such as three-dimensional cardboard superheroes kids can build.

"Making our toys out of renewable, recycled, or certified materials will result in about a 90% reduction of fossil fuel based plastic in Happy Meal toys, from a baseline of 2018," the company said in a statement. "For perspective, that’s more or less the size of the entire population of Washington, DC, eliminating plastics from their lives for a year."

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Credit: AP
A cardboard McDonald’s Happy Meal toy is shown with a Happy Meal box on Sept. 20, 2021. McDonald’s plans to “drastically” reduce the plastic in its Happy Meal toys worldwide by 2025. The burger giant said Tuesday, Sept. 21 it’s working with toy companies to develop new ideas, such as three-dimensional cardboard superheroes kids can build or board games with plant-based or recycled game pieces. (AP Photo/Dee-Ann Durbin)

McDonald’s said it’s also exploring using recycled plastic toys to make new restaurant trays. The company already made the change in the U.K. and Ireland, where it only sells soft toys or books in its Happy Meals.

"Fun will always be front and center with our beloved Happy Meal, so while our toys will be more sustainable by 2025, we think this new lineup will continue to delight kids and the whole family," McDonald's said.

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