Is there a love more fleeting than a child’s affection for a fast-food meal toy? One minute, it’s the coolest thing in the world. An hour later back at home, it’s stuffed between two couch cushions, forgotten and alone. As parents of small kids can attest, these meal toys are just complete garbage, no matter how many adult, ahem, enthusiasts review them online (seriously, a million subscribers?).
There’s been a lot of talk about plastic straws, but that’s not the only plastic waste spewing out of fast-feeders, and now Burger King has decided to remove all plastic toys from its kids’ meals. Not only that but the initiative, created by agency Jones Knowles Ritchie and starting this week in the U.K., is also calling for people to drop plastic toys from meals past in “plastic toy amnesty bins” at Burger King locations to be melted down and recycled into things that are actually useful, like play areas and surface tools, which can be recycled many times over.
People in the U.K. who bring in toys to melt down next week will get a free King Junior meal when they buy any adult meal. To promote the project, Burger King has created a cast of melted-down plastic toy characters, including Beep Beep, a jeep-driving bunny, which the brand has installed a giant melting version of on London’s South Bank to promote the project.
Burger King global CMO Fernando Machado said in a statement that this is the company’s first step in its wider commitment to reduce plastics. “Work is currently underway across all of our markets to look at how we can completely move away from non bio-degradable plastic toys by 2023,” he said.
The melted-down plastic toys will be repurposed by circular economy firm Pentatonic, whose CEO calls Burger King’s move a major leap. “Burger King is not making a vague gesture, which is so often the case in this sector. Instead it is taking significant action,” said Jamie Hall in a statement. “Burger King has listened to its audience and is responding in an emphatic way and we are delighted to provide the design and manufacturing technologies to make their bold vision a reality.”