Burger King Is Removing Plastic Toys From Kids Meals in the UK

The initiative has not made its way to the US yet

Burger king plastic toy and logo melting
Burger King's 'The Meltdown' is launching today. Burger King
Headshot of Diana Pearl

LONDON—The war on plastics is growing, with Burger King saying today that it will no longer include plastic toys in kids meals served in the United Kingdom.

This move comes as part of a new initiative and campaign the fast food chain is debuting today called “The Meltdown,” which will feature advertisements in digital content, out of home, in-store, PR and experiential. From now until Sept. 30, people are encouraged to bring old plastic toys into 500 Burger King locations across the U.K.—even if they aren’t from Burger King’s “King Junior Meals”—and place them in designated bins in the restaurants. The donated toys will be melted down and repurposed in play areas and surface tools. This recycling and the elimination of plastic toys going forward will save an estimated 320 tons of single-use plastic, according to the company.

Jones Knowles Ritchie, the design agency behind the Meltdown campaign, also created several “melted down” characters, such as Beep Beep, a driving bunny; Mr Hugglesworth, a robot; and Roary, a wind-up dinosaur. A life-size version of Beep Beep will be on display on London’s South Bank. The Burger King flagship in London’s Leicester Square will also have a complete “meltdown” takeover, with exterior and interior decor changes, limited-edition uniforms and packaging. Advertisements will hang in other U.K. Burger King locations.

The move comes as global outcry around single-use plastics is reaching a high point. However, Fernando Machado, the global CMO at Burger King, said that for now, the change is solely coming to the U.K., with other markets—like the U.S.—soon to follow.

“The U.K. is one of our key global markets,” said Machado. “This is a pilot program that is currently running in the U.K. only. The U.K. market will be leading the way in making this first step towards change, which is part of our wider commitment on reducing plastics. When it comes to other markets, work is currently underway to look at how we can move away completely from non-biodegradable plastic toys by the end of 2025.”

Customers at a Burger King at London’s Westfield shopping center in Shepherd’s Bush commended the move. As Danny Doyle, who was dining with his two sons, said: “Less plastic is always good.”

Claire Kettle said that instead of toys, she prefers to see restaurants giving out books and other interactive, non-plastic items, as she’s seen at Burger King competitor McDonald’s.

A few, however, questioned if it was a drastic enough move. “It’s good, but they’re still using these [plastic lids and straws],” said Kate Oustova. “They use a lot more of those than toys.”

Customer Lisa Gordon added: “They’re the corporations; they should be doing this. It’s their responsibility.”

@dianapearl_ diana.pearl@adweek.com Diana is the deputy brands editor at Adweek and managing editor of Brandweek.