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McDonald's Happy Meal toys are getting an eco-friendly makeover

The fast food chain is updating its toys to be more sustainable.
Happy Meal toys will soon be made from more sustainable materials.
Happy Meal toys will soon be made from more sustainable materials.Ratana21 / Shutterstock
/ Source: TODAY

McDonald's is taking steps to ensure that its iconic Happy Meal toys are made with both kids and the environment in mind.

On Tuesday, the fast food chain announced that it will be drastically reducing the amount of plastic it uses to create those beloved toys and revealed that every Happy Meal toy around the globe will be more sustainable by the year 2025.

To achieve its goals, the burger chain will be turning to more renewable, recycled or certified materials (bio-based and plant-derived) to produce its toys. Over time, the company estimates that it will reduce the amount of virgin fossil fuel-based plastic it uses by 90%.

The new toys might look a little different, but they're equally as fun as their plastic counterparts.McDonalds

The Happy Meal has changed quite a bit since it first debuted in 1979, but one thing has remained the same over the years: those plastic toys that kids (and adults alike) look forward to unwrapping. With this new announcement, McDonald's is taking cues from its eco-conscious customers to help inform its sustainability moves.

“Our next generation of customers care deeply about protecting the planet and what we can do to help make our business more sustainable. We’re always exploring where we can drive greater impact, including the transformation of beloved icons like the Happy Meal,” McDonald’s Chief Sustainability Officer Jenny McColloch said in a press release.

“With this transition for our toys, we’re working closely with suppliers, families, and play experts and engineers to introduce more sustainable, innovative designs and help drive demand for recycled materials, to keep McDonald’s communities and beyond smiling for generations to come.”

Anyone that grew up visiting McDonald's knows the best part of a Happy Meal is the toy inside.Felix Choo / Alamy

The materials used to create those pint-sized toys might be changing, but McDonald's emphasized that its customers will still be able to enjoy hours of endless fun with them. In fact, the chain has already been testing the waters overseas and producing toys with more sustainable materials since 2018.

Plastic figurines are already a thing of the past in France, and UK and Ireland McDonald's restaurants are also in the process of switching from plastic to innovative materials to produce their toys. So far, their efforts have resulted in a "30% reduction in virgin fossil fuel based plastic use."

In addition to changing the material of its toys, McDonald's also recently experimented with recycling old toys into new restaurant trays in Japan.

McDonald's toys were most recently in the spotlight earlier this month when the restaurant released 50 new Disney-themed Happy Meal toys to celebrate Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary. Last November, the burger chain also released a set of 10 limited-edition toys that represented some of the most iconic attractions at Disney parks.

When the Happy Meal turned 40 years old in 2019, the fast food chain brought back some of its most popular toys from over the years including Cowboy McNugget, Hamburglar and Patti the Platypus Beanie Baby toys.