Fast-food giant McDonald’s has pledged to cut back on the use of plastic after an eight-year-old boy asked them to stop handing Happy Meal toys out.
Jacob Douglas, of Basildon, Essex wrote an open letter to the world’s second largest fast food chain telling them the excess plastic was “affecting the world around us”.
The handwritten letter read: “Dear McDonald staff, please can you stop putting toys in the happy meals? I would be very happy. The toy are made of plastic and it is affecting the world around us. It is killing a lot of animails (sic). yours sincerely, Jacob Douglas age 8 essex, basildon.”
Jacob, who attends Willows Primary School, Basildon signed the letter off with smiley face.
His mum Kirsty Douglas, 33, said her son has been passionate about the environment for “some time”.
She said: “Jacob loves animals, including polar bears, and we’ve been doing things like swapping shower gels for soaps for a while, and he was thinking about what more he could do, so he thought about getting in touch with McDonald’s as they’re a huge company which could make a big difference.
“We hope that by making it an open letter it will make more people environmentally aware and encourage others to do the same.”
In a response to Jacob’s letter, a McDonald’s spokesman said: “We are very impressed by how passionate he is about protecting the environment, and would like to assure him that we are also passionate about doing our bit to protect the environment for generations to come.
“On Happy Meal toys, we are proud that our restaurants are places that families like to go and eat, and our Happy Meal is part of the enjoyment for customers.
“However, we fully understand that Jacob would like us to think about using different materials for our toys.
“And McDonald’s is looking at alternatives that will keep our Happy Meals fun without causing damage to our environment.
“In the coming months, customers will start seeing more books, board games and soft toys in our Happy Meals – which will see a near 60 per cent reduction in the number of hard plastic toys given away in comparison to the first half of the year.
“We hope this reassures Jacob we are working hard to reduce our impact on the environment.”
McDonald’s recently announced plans to remove plastic lids from its McFlurry ice creams and single-use plastic from its salad bowls in the UK in an effort to become more environmentally friendly.
Beth Hart, supply chain director of McDonald’s UK and Ireland, said: “It’s the latest step in our sustainability journey.
“We are committed to listening to our customers and finding solutions with our suppliers that work for them.
“This is the latest example of that – but by no means the end.”
Plastic pollution is having a negative impact on our oceans and wildlife health and high-income countries tend to generate more plastic waste per person.
However, how plastic waste is managed determines its risk of entering the ocean.
Overall, approximately 80 per cent of ocean plastics come from land-based sources, and 20 percent from marine.