McDonald’s recently announced that the company is shifting the production of Happy Meal toys from single-use plastics to renewable, recycled or certified materials by 2025. As described in a Forbes article, the fast-food giant has been under pressure to improve the sustainability of their Happy Meal toys since 2019, when two sisters launched a petition that generated a half a million signatures.
This shift is predicted to “result in an approximately 90% reduction in virgin fossil fuel-based plastic use against a 2018 baseline, or nearly the equivalent to the population of Washington, DC, eliminating plastics from their lives for a year.”
The sheer scale of large corporations like McDonald’s allows company-wide shifts in sourcing and production practices to have meaningful environmental impacts that can support true innovation in ecologically sound materials.
Our latest report, Sustainability 2021: Environment and Society in Focus, finds that more than four out of five consumers (83%) say that they are very concerned about the amount of single-use plastic that we are using as a society and are concerned about its implications not only for the environment but also for human health.
The new report finds that the topic of sustainability itself is one of many important considerations for consumers across food and beverage categories, whether purchasing groceries or choosing a restaurant. While taste and convenience top the list of priorities for sourcing meals and snacks from restaurants, sustainability is not always top of mind. However, consumers express appreciation for sustainability initiatives in food service involving packaging and dishware, seeing this as a bonus that makes them feel better about their choices, even if it is not driving them.
With regard to single-use plastic and waste, many consumers feel that companies are best positioned to offer solutions that allow them to rely less on plastic while maintaining the experiences they have come to expect, furthering the sentiment that consumers need not alter behaviors provided the sourcing of materials is “eco-friendly.”
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