McDonalds Chief Sustainability Officer Jenny McColloch: Big news

McDonald's Chief Sustainability Officer Jenny McColloch: Big news

 September 22, 2021

Working in a sustainability-focused role can be very rewarding. 

Jenny McColloch is the Chief Sustainability Officer for McDonald's. She leads the sustainability team in designing and managing McDonald’s environmental, social and community impact strategies, including overseeing corporate giving and volunteerism. Partnering with groups within and beyond McDonald’s, Jenny’s team coordinates impact initiatives and public commitments to drive meaningful, industry-wide change across the value chain – from supply chain through to the restaurant, customer and community experience. 

"I think about how we can take care of people, animals and the planet - we only have one - so it's a responsibility for all of us to help take care of it," explains Jenny.

In her role, Jenny had the pleasure of announcing some very exciting and important news for McDonald's. 

Building a more resilient planet for the next generation

For more than 40 years, kids and families have delighted in Happy Meals for delicious food and great fun. Many of us have fond memories of playtime fueled by a toy found inside that magical box.

Great news! McDonald's is taking a step to keep the fun going while helping to build a more resilient planet for the next generation. Starting now, and phased in across the globe by the end of 2025, McDonald's ambition is that every toy sold in a Happy Meal will be sustainable, made from more renewable, recycled, or certified materials like bio-based and plant-derived materials and certified fiber.

McDonald's is drastically reducing plastics in toys while offering all the games, action heroes and collectibles that continue to spark kids’ imaginations and love of play. Making toys out of renewable, recycled, or certified materials will result in about a 90% reduction of fossil fuel based plastic in Happy Meal toys, from a baseline of 2018. For perspective, that’s more or less the size of the entire population of Washington, DC, eliminating plastics from their lives for a year.

And good news: McDonald's has already started. The transition to more sustainable Happy Meal toys is well underway in countries such as the UK and Ireland, and complete in France. Efforts around the world, including these, have resulted already in a 30% reduction in virgin fossil fuel based plastic use since 2018. Fun will always be front and center with the beloved Happy Meal, so while McDonald's toys will be more sustainable by 2025, this new lineup will continue to delight kids and the whole family.

Jenny shares the news of sustainable Happy Meal toys globally by the end of 2025

"For more than four decades, the McDonald’s Happy Meal has lived up to its name, bringing joy to children and families around the globe. We all know the scene of kids tearing open their Happy Meal boxes, ready to eat and eager to play. And part of what makes this experience so special—in addition to the delicious food—is the iconic Happy Meal Toy," says Jenny. "Our customers who love experiencing Happy Meals with the kids in their lives today also care deeply about protecting the environment for this next generation’s future." 

"That’s why I’m excited to share some exciting news that will mean a lot to the millions of families we serve each day. We announced McDonald's ambition to drastically reduce plastics and offer sustainable Happy Meal toys globally by the end of 2025. Transitioning to more renewable, recycled, and certified materials for our Happy Meal toys will result in an approximately 90% reduction in virgin fossil fuel-based plastic use against a 2018 baseline. For comparison, the average person uses more than 220 pounds of plastic annually, so this is equivalent to more than 650,000 individuals eliminating plastics from their lives each year."

Expanding McDonald's positive impact on the environment 

"Protecting the planet for our shared future demands that we look at all parts of our business, including the customer experience. I’m proud that nothing is off the table for our leadership, partners, and families. Together, we’re expanding our positive impact on the environment through the transformation of one of McDonald’s most beloved icons. Making changes like this, however, does not come without challenges. The thought on our minds was, how do we improve something that our customers already love around the world, without compromising any of the reasons they love it... and in the case of the Happy Meal, what they love is fun!," comments Jenny.

"Fortunately, our colleagues have been asking themselves that question. Markets like the UK, Ireland and France have rolled out new toys, such as those from blockbuster movie franchises like the sustainably-made Illumination's Minions. Recent Happy Meal toy innovations like these have already resulted in a 30% reduction in virgin fossil fuel-based plastic use since 2018, and now we’re scaling this effort globally to eliminate even more plastics from our system. We're also in early stages of exploring further positive impact beyond the toy. In some places, playgrounds and restaurant trays can be made from recycled toys, like they are in the UK and Japan. We’ve assembled a team that extends beyond McDonald's and includes scientists, toy makers and suppliers. And although they are all experts in their own right, they take their inspiration on this project from one important source...kids! We’ve listened to families to understand what works best to keep the fun factor high for their board games, classic superheroes and favorite movie character collectibles," says Jenny. "Fortunately, our colleagues have been asking themselves that question. Markets like the UK, Ireland and France have rolled out new toys, such as those from blockbuster movie franchises like the sustainably-made Illumination's Minions. Recent Happy Meal toy innovations like these have already resulted in a 30% reduction in virgin fossil fuel-based plastic use since 2018, and now we’re scaling this effort globally to eliminate even more plastics from our system. We're also in early stages of exploring further positive impact beyond the toy. In some places, playgrounds and restaurant trays can be made from recycled toys, like they are in the UK and Japan."

Innovating for sustainable Happy Meal toys

McDonald's toys

Making a positive impact for the planet

"Together we’ve leveraged all that the Happy Meal stands for to make positive impact for the planet feel more personal and exciting. We’re showing families the cumulative power of their recycling efforts by constructing new playgrounds out of their old possessions. We’re exploring ways to replace the final traces of virgin plastics in inks and laminates. This feels a lot more consequential when it means matching the color scheme of your favorite movie characters, or creating construction materials strong enough to build a towering T-Rex that holds up throughout even the most rambunctious play time. We’re continuing work with our partners to experiment with and invent even more eco-friendly materials. We hope these investments and efforts will support industry-wide solutions as we all take steps to reduce plastic waste and conserve our natural resources," says Jenny.  

McDonald's is committed to helping its entire industry reimagine how it operates—one restaurant, one meal, and one toy at a time. And for all the kids and families out there…you can join them!  McDonald's can’t wait to shape the future of fun, together.


Work for a company with a strong sustainability commitment

In partnership with Franchisees, suppliers and producers, McDonald's is finding new and innovative ways to reduce emissions, keep waste out of nature, and preserve natural resources. From minimizing how much packaging it uses to investing in renewable energy and partnering to advance sustainable and regenerative agriculture practices – McDonald's works to help protect the planet for communities today and in the future. 

Aligned with this commitment?

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