Why McDonald’s have chosen paper in a bid for sustainability

McDonald’s have stated that from 2021 Happy Meals will come with either a paper-based toy, a soft toy or a paper book. The fast food franchise hopes this effort will save more than 3,000 metric tonnes of plastic in use at its UK business from 2021, which would be its biggest single reduction to date.

McDonald’s will start introducing the new sustainable toys from May, when parents and children will be offered the opportunity to ditch their plastic toys for a book or paper toy when they buy a Happy Meal. This will allow environmentally conscious consumers to move away from plastic toys in every outlet. McDonald’s are also thinking about the unwanted plastic toys that can be taken to any of to its 1,350 sites across the UK, which will then be melted down and made into better toys for its charity in the UK and Ireland.

We care passionately about the environment and are committed to reducing plastic across our business including within our Happy Meal. Families have high expectations of us and we’re working as hard as we can to give them the confidence that their Happy Meal is as sustainable as possible. Getting that right is a big responsibility, but we believe the changes we’re making today have the potential to make a big difference.Gareth Helm, McDonald’s UK Chief Marketing Officer

This isn’t the only sustainable move the company has made, in the past McDonald’s has committed to reducing emissions by 36% by the end of the decade, and to use renewable and recyclable materials in all of its packaging by 2025. The company has removed the lids from it’s McFlurry ice creams, saving 385 tonnes of plastic, replaced its plastic salad boxes with ones made from paper, and rolled-out paper straws last year.

But why is the paper-based alternative a more sustainable & environmentally friendly choice?

Firstly, paper is recycled on average 3.5 times a year in Europe. Much more than some of the infamous single-use plastics that McDonald’s used throughout it’s packaging and toys. In fact, 72% of paper & paper packaging is recycled into new products.

Our favourite things about paper is that it loves trees! In the age of “make, use, dispose”, paper is a unique and versatile product that comes from a natural and renewable source, meaning that it promotes a circular economy focused on generating less waste.

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