For generations, kids everywhere have had two reasons to get excited for a trip to a fast food restaurant. The first, obviously, is the food. However, even if your nuggets were accidentally raw and your burger served semifreddo, there was always the silver lining provided by a small plastic toy. Tiny Pokemon and miniature Hot Wheels have a happy habit of making you completely forget what came before, even if it could have given you food poisoning. But, despite the established status quo proving successful for some time, there are signs that things could be about to change. Forever.
According to a report by BBC News, fast food giants Burger King have announced that they are going to stop providing toys with their kids meals altogether, in a bid to stop plastic waste. To make matters worse for nostalgic merch owners, the company are also encouraging customers to hand in their old toys so that they can be "melted down" and repurposed.
The initiative comes after two children from the English county of Hampshire wrote to both Burger King and McDonald’s, asking them to stop toy production and save the planet. Ella and Caitlin McEwan, who began a formal petition in July, have since gained over 500,000 signatures. Though McDonald’s has refused to rule out continuing to sell toys with their Happy Meals, Burger King has decided to heed the request and take decisive action.
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In a statement addressing the concerns raised by the petition, Burger King stressed their desire to take “significant action”, revealing plans to install in-restaurant plastic bins for collecting old toys. It is hoped that the move could help to save up to 320 tonnes of plastic every year.
Despite their rival’s drastic change of policy, McDonald’s have been much more non-committal. Rather than rule out toy production altogether, the business said that they would be offering British customers a choice between a book, a toy and fruit. As Paul Pomroy, chief executive of McDonald's UK and Ireland, put it:
"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."
Time will tell which approach proves to be the most successful.