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20 September 2019, 10:35 | Updated: 20 September 2019, 12:52
The fast food giants are introducing planet-friendly swaps in a bid to cut down on single-use plastic.
McDonald’s and Burger King have announced plans to scrap toys inside their children’s meals in a bid to cut down on single-use plastic.
Fast food giant Burger King will ditch plastic toys completely in an effort to save a whopping 320 tonnes of waste every year, while McDonald’s will give Happy Meal lovers the option to swap them out for fruit bags or books.
Burger King's plastic-reducing move kicked off in the UK on Thursday this week, while McDonald’s said it will start offering children and parents the planet-friendly substitute from next month, followed by a book option early next year.
The news comes after Southampton sisters Ella and Caitlin McEwan began a Change.org petition, which called for the popular restaurants to "think of the environment and stop giving plastic toys with their kids’ meals".
The eco-conscious siblings quickly racked up half a million signatures causing the hamburger powerhouses to take note of the petition against single-use plastic.
Burger King UK chief executive Alasdair Murdoch said: "We’re making a start. This is a step in the right direction.
"If it makes other competitors move their practices forward, that can only be a good thing."
As the effort to reduce world waste continues, McDonald’s explained that by scaling back on plastic toys, along with the introduction of paper straws in restaurants and the removal of both McFlurry plastic lids and single-use plastic from salads, the conglomerate hopes to cut back on 1,005 metric tonnes annually.
McDonald’s UK and Ireland chief executive Paul Pomroy said: "We recognise that some people may not want a plastic Happy Meal toy, but we also know that the gifts provide fun for many families and children.
"That’s why we’ll be running these trials, in order to give our customers a choice; they also can choose not to have a toy or gift at all."
"It’s important we understand what our customers want and we’ll learn a lot from whether they choose a fruit bag or a book over a toy.
"At the same time, we will be evolving what the toy or gift is – new authors as part of Happy Readers, paper-based toys and board games.
"We know that our Happy Meal is much loved by our customers so any changes need to be carefully considered."
As a further commitment to cutting back on single-use plastic, Burger King has vowed to instal amnesty bins in every single UK restaurant so people can discard of any free toys they've previously been given by fast food joints, children's magazines and confectionery brands.
The plastic will be recycled into playgrounds, interactive food trays and more.
Global chief marketing officer at Burger King Fernando Machado said: "We are a global brand, and the UK market will be leading the way in making this first step towards change, which is part of our wider commitment on reducing plastics.
"Work is currently underway across all of our markets to look at how we can completely move away from non-biodegradable plastic toys by 2025."