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Suffolk Tory wants McDonald’s to scrap Happy Meal toys in fight against plastic

PUBLISHED: 11:41 07 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:46 07 October 2018

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey pictured in Felixstowe during the Plastic Whale Tour of the UK Picture: JEFF SPICER

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey pictured in Felixstowe during the Plastic Whale Tour of the UK Picture: JEFF SPICER

PA Archive/PA Images

A Suffolk Conservative minister would like McDonald’s to scrap its plastic Happy Meal toys.

Suffolk Coastal MP and environment minister Therese Coffey told a policy debate at the Tory conference in Birmingham that she wanted to scrap the plastic toys.

Speaking to this newspaper she said she had praised McDonald’s for moving to paper straws and would “love it if they stopped putting plastic toys in their happy meals”.

“These toys take five centuries to degrade and are usually used for a very short time,” Dr Coffey added.

“They already do books a couple of months a year and games. Why not all year round?

“It would be an important symbolic move by McDonald’s to stop handing out plastic toys at all.

“While technically all plastic is recyclable, I don’t’ know any authority that collects these toys.

“Drowning in Plastic, shown last week, was another good reminder of the need to tackle avoidable waste.”

Plastics pollution has become a major focus for environmentalists and politicians in recent months.

Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have both launched campaigns against the proliferation of plastics, which are said to be having a devastating impact on oceans and marine life.

In Suffolk, Jason Alexander, aka Wildlife Gadget Man, has been waging a war on the plastic plague threatening the coastline.

This summer, he completed his six-day “rubbish walk” along the Suffolk coast in a bid to raise awareness about plastic pollution while supporting The Brain Tumour Charity.

The worldwide campaign has seen calls to ban single use plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, cotton buds and balloons.

However, Dr Coffey’s comments are thought to be the first to bring toys into the firing line.

According to a story in Saturday’s Times, the suggestion was met by some concern from some colleagues.

“We’ll probably ban Christmas next,” one cabinet minster was reported as saying.

A McDonald’s spokesman told The Telegraph: “The reduction and use of plastics is a hugely important issue – for our business, for the sector and for society. We are committed to reducing our environmental impact and we can, and want to, be part of the solution – for example with our move from recyclable plastic straws to paper.

“We know that our Happy Meal toys provide fun for children and families playing in our restaurants, but also provide many more fun filled hours at home too. When families are finished playing with them, they can also be recycled.”

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