McDonald’s to cut use of virgin plastic in toys, announces share buyback program as business recovers

USA – McDonald’s Happy Meal toys will be made from recycled or plant-based plastics in an effort to cut its use of virgin fossil fuel-based plastics, the company has revealed.  

According to a statement from the company, the changes will allow it to cut its use of virgin fossil fuel-based plastic for Happy Meals by 90% compared with 2018. 

McDonald’s, which started selling Happy Meals in 1979, shifted to more sustainable toys in the UK, Ireland and France in 2018. 

In the United States, McDonald’s is already using some sustainable toys, including books and Pokemon collectible cards. 

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More such toys will hit the U.S. market in January, said Amy Murray, vice president of global marketing enablement.  

The Chicago-based fast food restaurant chain says the global transition will however have a wider impact, enabling it to cut the use of plastic in the more than 1 billion children’s toys it sells globally each year by the end of 2025. 
 
The change involves swapping out a plastic figurine of Batman, for example, for one made with a dozen cardboard pieces that kids can put together themselves. 

McDonald’s is one of many restaurant chains aiming to reduce environmental harm from packaging and other products. 

Burger King, a unit of Restaurant Brands International Inc, said in 2019 that it would stop giving out free plastic toys and gave customers the option to return existing ones to be melted down and used as trays and other items. 

Share buyback program resumes 

As the phasing out of virgin plastic in toys continues, McDonald’s Corp has also announced that it would restart share buybacks as its business recovers from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
McDonald’s had suspended its US$15 billion buyback program early last year as the burger chain looked to conserve cash in order to navigate through the COVID-19 health crisis that had forced many of its restaurants to close their doors to diners. 
 
The company now feels confident in restarting the program as global sales rebound and more people continue to head out to restaurants as economies reopen.

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