McDonald’s UK Happy Meals Will Be Plastic Toy Free
Anthony Devlin / Contributor / Getty Images
The activism of two British schoolgirls seems to have finally paid off.
More than one year ago, sisters Ella and Caitlin McEwan started a petition calling on McDonald's and Burger King to stop giving out plastic toys with children's meals. McDonald's UK originally responded with an automated email, but on Tuesday, the company pledged to stop putting hard plastic toys in its Happy Meals, The Independent reported.
"This represents the biggest reduction in plastic by McDonald's UK and Ireland to date and is the next step in its mission to reduce its environmental impact across all areas of the business," McDonald's said in a statement reported by AFP, as published in The Jakarta Post.
From new toy packaging to removing non-sustainable plastic, we’re always working hard to make our Happy Meals even… https://t.co/VbYxO2fhpz— McDonald's UK (@McDonald's UK)1584454352.0
Starting in 2021, the company will replace all plastic toys in the UK and Ireland with either a soft toy, a paper toy or a book. This will cut the chain's plastic use by 3,000 metric tons (approximately 3,307 U.S. tons), it estimated.
Before 2021, the company also announced various steps to ease the transition, according to The Independent.
- Starting this month, the company will test paper packaging for Happy Meals.
- Beginning in August, the paper will also wrap books in Happy Meals.
- In two months, children can choose between a toy or a book in a meal.
- At the same time, the company will organize a "toy amnesty" in which children can recycle old toys in designated bins, where they will be used to make play equipment for the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Environmental campaigners applauded the announcement, but said the company could do more.
"Well done to McDonald's for taking action and considering the impact their products will have on those who will inherit the earth," A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian Sutherland told iNews. "Now is the time for them to push on. Eliminate plastic from their restaurants and lead the fast-food industry forward in tackling the crisis."
Ella and Caitlin, now aged 10 and 8, launched the petition after learning about plastic pollution in school.
"The girls have had lots of lessons about protecting the environment and they were quite worried about it," Rachael, their mother, told The Daily Mail in Nov. 2018. "Ella came home after they'd seen a short film about plastics in the sea. They were talking about turtles with plastic bags round their necks, and that really upset the children."
The petition has since gathered more than half a million signatures.
"We like to go to eat at Burger King and McDonald's," the girls wrote in the petition, "but children only play with the plastic toys they give us for a few minutes before they get thrown away and harm animals and pollute the sea. We want anything they give to us to be sustainable so we can protect the planet for us and for future generations."
Burger King was actually first to head their demands. In September, it promised to stop offering plastic toys in kid's meals, iNews reported.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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